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Missouri Coalition Against Common Core

                           Working to regain local control of education in Missouri.

 Missourians not given the same opportunity as Ohioans to have a say in their state education plan

This week a letter,

Federal law requires several named stakeholders be consulted in drafting the each state's Consolidated Education Plan, including parents and legislators. It also requires the Governor to sign off on the plan. DESE has indicated their intent to submit our plan by April 3, 2017. The letter is intended to bring to the Governor's attention that he is required to review and consult on this plan prior to its submission. It outlined several areas of concern including ensuring that the plan was accountable to local tax payers who supply almost 90% of funding for MO schools through Missouri property taxes and the state funding formula. A review of the DESE website shows a PPt explaining the process of the development of the plan, but does not show a draft application for public review.

In contrast, Ohio has announced it is postponing submission of its plan to accommodate a thorough review of public comments about its draft application

Missourians were not given the same opportunity as Ohioans.

Bill Gates has funded the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) $10 million to influence state plans. Recall that CCSSO is co-owner of the Common Core standards copyright and houses Data Quality Campaign -- the Gates funded organization that advises states on the development of their statewide longitudinal data systems.Missouri deserves better.

Contact Governor Greitens's office and POLITELY ASK to view Missouri's application to the U.S. Department of Education so that you, as a taxpayer know what DESE is committing you to.

How Many Times Can Our Bureaucrats And Elected Officials Break The Law?

The history of common core is rife with efforts to circumvent the representative political process we have. Dr. Mary Byrne presented to the MO State Board of Education testimony about all the instances where the federal government, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board itself violated laws and regulations. If they want to understand why the public is so mad about Common Core, they need look no further than the fact that the process put in place to protect us from a totalitarian take over was avoided by those determined to implement national standards and assessments.

A link to her detailed comments is here.

Emails Indicate the Fix Was In For DESE On HB1490 Work Groups

August 5, 2015

Emails obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education contained a road map for how our state education agency worked in partnership with numerous federally funded agencies and organizations outside the state to manage the process of the Standards Work Groups established by HB1490 last year to ensure that the state retained the Common Core Standards. Among the critical findings:

  • DESE personnel actively sought consultation and financial support from out-of-state and federally funded organizations dedicated to the implementation of the common core state standards in opposition to the intent of HB1490
  • DESE personnel also misused federal Title II funds to fund the facilitators and notetakers who attempted to direct the process to be a mere review and tweaking of Common Core, thus robbing teachers of needed professional development funds.
  • DESE personnel sought public media coverage of the disruption within an English language arts work group caused by a non-qualified member who had misrepresented his qualifications and his impartiality on the issue of Common Core in order to secure an appointment by then Speaker of the House Tim Jones.

The MCACC sent a letter to Rep. David Wood, Chairman of the Joint Education Committee, informing him and other key committee members, of what was found in the FOIAed emails. That Committee, made up of members of both the House and Senate, was formed and is directed by RsMO 160.254 to provide fiscal oversight of costs and funding of the public school system and higher education. They have no official role in the standards development process other than to provide input to the State Board of Education after the standards have been submitted by the work groups, ostensibly on the cost of implementation, based on the prior statute. However, they will be holding a meeting August 26 to hear progress reports from the eight Work Group Chairmen.

The Coalition's letter asks the Committee to withdraw the agenda item as it does not fall under their statutory authority. If they are not amenable to that, the Coalition asks that the Committee make no judgement on the work of the work groups without hearing from members other than just the chairmen who are typically DESE supporters, and make no decisions without a fiscal review of the costs of retaining the standards including the potential increased costs should the copyright be sold to a party who is not willing to extend the free use thereof.

A request is also being made to our representatives in Washington to look into the various programs like CEELO, C3, and WestEd, who have been charged with helping states implement and maintain the Common Core Standards, and which are funded, according to their websites, primary through the USDoED. Recall that the House and Senate re-authorization of ESEA bills claim to greatly reduce the number of programs funded by the USDoED and promise not to call for states to use Common Core standards. However, if these organizations remain funded by the Appropriations Committee, Chaired by our own Senator Blunt, we can conclude one of two things:

  • Congress does a terribly poor job of fiscal oversight and does not actually know what they are funding.
  • Congress is lying about what the new legislation would actually do.

There will be more information coming in the next several days on these emails from the Missouri Education Watchdog. Be sure to check back frequently.

Top Common Core News Stories From Missouri

Common Core under attack from legislators, parents - Joplin Globe

Lawmakers voice concern over teachers’ claims - JC News Tribune

State lawmakers fight Common Core - Springfield News Leader

Don't you wish you had this guy in your school district? Dr. Rella of Comsewogue High School in NY speaks out against the over-reliance on standardized testing.

Gretchen Logue on Conversations With Lee Presser

Dr. Mary Byrne of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core is interviewed on Tamara Scott Live webcast 10-2-13 on Common Core.

Legislative Status Update

April 15, 2014

Here is where we are with our legislation with only 5 weeks left in the session.

House Bills

HB1490 - (stop common core) An amended version passed out of the House 132:19. Will be heard by Senate Education Committee Wed. April 16, 2014 1:30 p.m.

HB1873 - (student data privacy) Had been added to the House calendar and is expected to be debated this week.

HJR74 - (elect state board of ed) Has been heard by the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee. It is waiting to be voted out of committee.

Senate Bills

SB514 & SB798 - (stop common core) A unified version of these two bills is awaiting a vote out of the Senate Education Committee. Will be voted on by Senate Education Committee Wed. April 16, 2014 1:30 p.m

SB819 - (student data privacy) Is on the Senate calendar and should be debated on the floor Wednesday April 16, 2014.

SJR55 - (elect state board of ed) Has been referred to the Senate Education Committee. Will most likely not be heard this session.

HB382 Place Responsibility For Your Child's Personal And Social Development with The School Guidance Counselor

HB382 (Swan) Requires school districts to establish comprehensive guidance and counseling programs for students attending school in the district

Accreditation Based on Guidance Program

The very first section of this bill takes elements of the Missouri School Improvement Program (MSIP) which is the DESE framework on how district accreditation is determined, and turn it into law. Since the bill allows DESE to "assess penalties for failing to comply" with this law, we know that districts will place the same kind of importance on guidance counseling that they currently do on other aspects of MSIP such as school attendance. School districts will enact every portion of this bill as required by DESE in order to maximize their points on their accreditation. Parental displeasure with anything put in place by the district will no longer matter.

Mandatory Participation for grades 3 thru 12

The second section of the bill requires that every student from grades 3-12 participate in the program. Just like the draconian attendance policies, districts will place pressure on families to participate in all aspects in this bill. Some of those aspects are about setting college and career goals. Imagine requiring 8 and 9 years old children to set such long range goals. Some of this involves setting goals for "social and personal development" that the student and parents will be required to adhere to and support. It will no longer be the parents' duty to monitor and shape their child's social development. A plan, developed through assessment and self reporting, will be on file with the school (and w/ DESE and third parties?). This provision makes every provision after it all the more dire.

1990s Style Values Clarification

The bill further elevates the role of the guidance counselor from what it already is under MSIP into that of a teacher in the classroom who will be teaching a "guidance curriculum." If you want to know what that looks like, just check out the 1000 page document on the guidance curriculum on DESE's website here Notice that there is an entire section on Personal and Social Development which is Values Clarification from the 1990's. Think of the now classic limited life boat space exercise that asks children to come up with rational for kicking people out of a lifeboat. And remember that these guidance counselors will not be in the parent teacher conferences to tell you about what values they are teaching your child.

Empowers Schools to Override Parents Directives for Their Children

In numerous instances it gives the school counselors and staff the authority to intervene "on your child's behalf" for anything they perceive to put your child's "educational, career, personal, or social development at risk." This would, potentially include anything the parents have decided to prohibit their child from doing that the school wants them to do.

Unfunded Mandates

The bill also requires districts to "establish a counseling center in each school building of the district" that is large enough to house all the comprehensive guidance programs, personnel and equipment. This is an unfunded mandate for more spending in each district for programs not initiated at the local level.

In short this bill gives DESE enormous power to dictate to districts exactly what type of counseling they want our children to receive. That counseling will shape their view of school only as a place to learn job skills, or prepare them for college which will then give them job skills. The last section of the bill authorizes the State Board of Education (which will work through DESE) to promulgate all the rules and regulations that go with this program. Does anyone trust DESE to do this? A Republican dominated legislature should not be granting DESE this much power and authority.

We believe that it is not possible to support any section of this bill. Should it make it out of committee we need to contact all our Representatives and tell them not to vote for HB382 if it comes to the House floor. This bill was supposed to be heard by the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on 2-16-15. Due to weather this meeting was cancelled. We do not have confirmation on when this bill will now be heard, but the next time this committee meets is 2-23-15. We encourage you to come present testimony when this bill is heard. If you can't make the hearing you may fill out a Witness Form using this link Witness Form

Update 3-17-15 - This bill has been significantly modified and now only says that districts MAY adopt a guidance counseling and curriculum program, and only for career or college prep purposes.

Common Core’s Flimsy Basis

"Common Core advocates understood what researchers were telling them about enabling conditions. However, during this stage of the policy process, they chose to downplay them because they would complicate the agenda at a time when a policy window was opening but might not be open for long."

Read More at Jay P Greene's Blog

Indiana teachers admit following Common Core

"While some politicians are unwilling to admit that Indiana is still following the Common Core, teachers and school administrators are not hiding it. Many school districts have been put in a difficult position with the rebrand: They have orders to teach standards that are Common Core to children whose parents were led to believe it was gone.

Read more at Hoosiers Against Common Core

 Dr. James Milgram warns that CC will destroy America's Standing in Technology

"From the time the new standards were put in place and until the time of the adoption of Common Core standards in California in 2010, Milgram said two-thirds of the students in the state [CA] were taking Algebra in the 8th grade and doing well, with over half of them at least proficient or above.

Milgram said this piece of information is critical because it showed that it was possible for almost every student to handle Algebra in the 8th grade.... he went on to reveal how the fact that challenging minority students – resulting in their increased performance – was a threat to faculty in universities."

Read more at Breitbart

Governor Mary Fallin (OK) Signs Anti-Common Core Legislation

June 5, 2014

On Thursday Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a full repeal of Common Core State Standards in Oklahoma. 

House Bill 3399 returns the state to the standards they had before 2010 when they first adopted Common Core. Governor Fallin was not in office at that time. The state will have two years to develop their own standards.

“The words ‘Common Core’ in Oklahoma are now so divisive that they have become a distraction that interferes with our mission of providing the best education possible for our children. If we are going to improve our standards in the classroom, now is the time to get to work,” said the Governor.

Fallin's signature on this bill is significant since she is currently the Chairwoman of the National Governors Association which, in conjunction with and the Council of Chief State School Officers, sponsored the creation the standards.

Let's see if Governor Nixon will follow suit and stand up for Missouri's sovereignty to set her own direction for education and sign HB1490.

Missouri Passes HB1490 To Reclaim State Control of Education Standards

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - With strong support in both the House and Senate, the Missouri legislature passed HB1490 whose main purpose is to define a system wherein state education experts will evaluate and recommend state K-12 education standards. HB1490 passed the House 131:12 and the Senate 23:6. While not going nearly as far in returning local control of education as members of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core had hoped, the bill is a good first step towards reclaiming state sovereignty over education.

"We would have liked the language to be a lot stronger in terms of rejecting the Common Core State Standards. We will have to rely on the professional integrity of those selected to be on the various work groups to really focus on what is best for our students and teachers and not be swayed by outside political or financial interests," said Anne Gassel a co-founder of MCACC. The coalition is a grassroots group made up of mothers and fathers, grandparents, teachers and school board members who are working together to restore local control of education.

HB1490, sponsored by Representative Kurt Bahr of St. Charles county, originally called for just the immediate cessation of implementation of Common Core State Standards. Several amendments were added by the House to address the practical issues of what would happen to districts while the state was working on new standards. “It was a team effort between grassroots supporters and our counterparts in the Senate. I am happy to have gotten a bill that will force an open and transparent process involving all of Missouri in the education of our children,” said Bahr.

The bill contains a one year moratorium on actions that could be taken based on student test scores on the statewide standardized tests aligned to the CCSS. Teacher evaluations cannot be affected by these scores, nor can they negatively impact district accreditation. The Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP5) which the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education imposed three years ago in a process that was far less consultative with local administrators than it had ever been in the past, required student test scores be used for both accreditation and teacher evaluation.

Senator Ed Emery (District 31) carried the bill in the Senate which added additional measures including the protection of student data. The bill which passed out of the Senate differed enough from the House bill to require a conference committee to work out the differences. The committee also sought input from the Governor's office to make the bill less vulnerable to a veto.

In February 2009, Governor Jay Nixon told C-SPAN, "Education... is primarily a state responsibility, no doubt about it." He stated that Missouri had an "outstanding" public education system. During 2008 a visit by then US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, she had this to say about Missouri's standards, "Massachusetts gets a lot of air time about their high standards, but it’s a little known fact that Missouri's are right up there and very, very strong." Yet just four months later Governor Nixon committed the state to adopting the, then as yet unwritten, CCSS in exchange for $1.7 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization Funds.

"The essence of HB1490 is an affirmation of the Governor's February statement about local control of education and we hope that he continues to support his publicly stated position by signing this bill," said Gassel.

This bill could provide a conflict of interest for the Governor as he sits on the Board of Directors of Achieve Inc., who was instrumental in the development of the CCSS and actually had several seats at the drafting table. Achieve Inc. is also the developer of the Next Generation Science Standards which Missouri is poised to adopt and implement.

The standards are part of a larger package of education reform measures referred to as the Four Assurances that Governor's had to sign on to in order to receive the SFSF. Those assurances included adoption of college and career ready standards and aligned assessments, student data tracking from pre-K through college, teacher evaluation programs that included metrics laid out by the US Department of Education and turn around models for failing school districts. Those same assurances were included in the state waiver applications for No Child Left Behind.

Members of MCACC recognized the unprecedented control those four assurances gave the USDoEd over education in Missouri. Combined on all the bills calling for the repeal of common core this session, more than 4,000 witness statements in support were turned in by the public, an unprecedented number. In their testimony on the common core bills working their way through the legislature this session, MCACC witnesses noted that the state has signed on to use a privately owned, copyrighted product that we had virtually no role in developing and which has no process for us to affect any improvements or changes that the state needs. "Yet our school districts will spend millions implementing this product. This is taxation without representation," said Mary Byrne, one of the founders of MCACC and an active speaker around the state on Common Core.

That desire for federal control has become more apparent as states that have rejected various elements of the assurances, like Indiana which rejected the CCSS and Washington which rejected the specific test the Department wanted for teacher evaluations, even though Washington's teacher evaluation program, established long before the USDoEd requirements, included a provision to tie student test scores to teacher evaluations, have found themselves potential targets for retaliation by the USDoEd.

"It's not about what is best for the students, its about making sure that states follow the Department's instructions to the letter," said Gretchen Logue another founder of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core and editor of “Those states are being punished for Congress’s failure to act to fix or repeal No Child Left Behind.”

Many teachers have quietly complained about the standards, but refused to do so publicly for fear of losing their jobs. Two teachers from the Sikeston School district did speak at a Senate hearing on SB798/SB514 (Emery/Lamping) which also addressed common core. "I just could not do this to my students any more without saying something," said Susan Kimball a kindergarten teacher in Sikeston, MO. "My kids are not developmentally ready to do a lot of this work." Her comments are consistent with those in a letter signed by 500 early childhood education experts with The Early Childhood Education Alliance submitted at the time the standards were being drafted which called the standards developmentally inappropriate and in "conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades." There were no early childhood educators on the CCSSI work groups and that letter was ignored by the drafter of the final report from the CCSSI.

A special education teacher in Missouri believes the standards put even more negative stress on her students. "For kids who are already behind in achievement, the more rigorous standards are causing them to give up." She said the increased amount of testing and the mandatory online format for the assessments do a great disservice to special education students who already have attention and focus issues. "It is impossible for them to do well. This is setting them up for failure."

Senator John Lamping sponsored legislation last year requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide information on the cost of common core implementation and the data collected on students. He offered this perspective on HB1490. “While this bill is a victory for the grassroots supporters who have worked tirelessly to educate Missourians it is but a first step. I hope they will continue their efforts to educate Missourians on the very serious concerns that exist with common core and the process by which it was adopted.”

The Governor has until August 28 to act on the bill.

Missouri Legislature Passes Common Core Bill HB1490!

With final votes of 131:12 in the House and 23:6 in the Senate the Missouri legislature took a giant step forward to reclaim local control of education by passing HB1490.

Legislative Status Update

May 15, 2014

UPDATE: The House Voted HB1490 out 132:12.

Yesterday, the Senate added a couple amendments to the Conference Committee Report which sent the bill back to the Conference Committee and triggered a request to the House to exceed the limits of the bill.

DESE conferred with the Conference Committee on a couple aspects of the SBAC testing requirements next spring to try to help out districts which are working their way back to accreditation. The protections for districts and teachers (not using student scores on the SBAC in 2015) remain in place and have been expanded to any pilot testing that is done and any time MSIP is changed.

MCACC Legislation This Session

The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core is supporting these bills in the 2014 Legislative Session. Please ask your representative and senator to vote to support these bills.

HB 1490 (Bahr) Stops the implementation of Common Core (the link takes you to the text that will be substituted for this bill's text in committee.)

HB (C. Jones) Stops the implementation of Common Core and gets the state out of SBAC

SB 514 (Lamping) Stops the implementation of Common Core

SB 798 (Emery) Stops the implementation of Common Core

HB 1873 (Guernsey) Student Data Privacy Act

SB 819 (Wallingford) 4th Amendment Protection Act

HJR 74 (Dohrman) State Board of Education Election Referendum

HB1818 (Dohrman) State Board of Education election statutory changes. This act shall be contingent upon the passage of HJR 74.

Representative Dohrman's bill would place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would change the way our state board of education members are selected. Currently they are appointed by the Governor. The people have no voice at the very top of education where all the decisions about education seem to be taking place in this state.

Terrence Moore's "The Story Killers"

Terrence O. Moore, professor of history at Hillsdale College, is a teacher, education reformer, and author. Dr. Moore has testified in Indiana in opposition to common core and is an outspoken critic of the CCSSI ELA standards. He has written a book that takes Appendix B from CCSSI, which gives exemplar lessons for common core language arts, and reveals how the standards, and the associated focus on informational text, are a deliberate undermining of the great stories of our tradition, the stories that in former times trained the minds and ennobled the souls of young people. Those stories are now under attack, and the minds and souls of the nation's children are in peril.

His book, "The Story Killers" examines: What is the Common Core? How will the Common Core English Standards affect the teaching of great stories in our schools? Will there be any great stories left in the minds of our children when the Common Core has controlled the curriculum and testing of both public and private schools for a few years? What are the real purposes behind the educational coup that has taken place with very little public debate and even less understanding? Professor Moore carefully examines both the claims made by the architects of the Common Core and the hidden agenda behind the so-called reforms that have been adopted by over forty states in the nation, with very few people understanding what is really going on. He not only challenges the illiberal aims of this educational regime, but actually analyzes lessons recommended in the Common Core English Standards and in the new textbooks bearing the Common Core logo. Such a thorough review exposes the absurdity, superficiality, and political bias that can only serve to dumb down the nation's schools.

About the author: A former Marine, Moore received his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, where he wrote on the history of education during the Enlightenment. He was the founding principal of Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, Colorado, whose high school twice ranked first in the state. Since 2008 he has taught history at Hillsdale College, where he is also the principal advisor of the Barney Charter School Initiative and is helping set up dozens of classical charter schools. Dr. Moore has written on the topics of school reform, liberal education, and traditional manhood for the Claremont Review of Books, Human Events, The Family in America, and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of The Perfect Game, a novel about real boys growing up in Texas. He lives with his wife and four children in Northeast Indiana.

The book is available in Kindle and paperback from Amazon

Common Core Protest at Celebrate Our Schools Event

Close to 25 protesters braved the cold outside the Billingsley Student Center on Missouri Southern State University on Monday to let Governor Nixon know that they do not support his education agenda for Missouri.

If anyone else has photos, send them to me and I will add them to the slide show. [email protected]

Sikeston Teachers on KWKZ

MCACC Data Bill To Be Filed

February 5, 2014

The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core is very excited to announce that Representative Casey Guernsey of the 2nd District will be filing a bill to return FERPA-like protection to student data gathered in the state of Missouri.

In January 2011, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, signed an executive order altering the definitions of who could have access to student level information collected by schools. Prior to this order, data access was restricted almost entirely to the local school by the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). 

The expanded definitions now covered by FERPA of authorized agents who can access such data include: other federal agencies, researchers and third party vendors with an educational purpose. Missouri already collects 61 data points on each child to comply with state and federal reporting requirements. Should federal law expand the requirements for data points, there is currently nothing to prevent the state from automatically collecting this data without informing parents. FERPA will no longer offer protection from the sharing of that data with a whole host of outside entities.

The states were also given federal money (state fiscal stabilization funds) to set up statewide longitudinal databases to collect data on students from pre-school (and ultimately prenatal) through to the workforce. The P-20 Council oversees this data collection and has agreements between the departments of Elementary and Secondary Education, Higher Education, Workforce Planning and Economic Development to provide access to the data. The danger in the collection of so much information on students comes from the incredible value of the data itself and the temptation to monetize it which is exactly what Sweetwater School District in CA did when they sold their student data for $17,000 to fund school improvements in advance of a visit by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Our bill will limit the data collected and will put back reasonable restrictions on who can have access to that data. Should federal law change, our state agency will not automatically be able to comply. Transparency will be established for the process of data collection and reporting.

The federal government has made it clear that their goal is a federal unit record system. Your child is a unit. They would like to have data to base education policy decisions upon. How about they pay attention to the constitution and stop developing education policy at the federal level? How much longer are we going to allow the federal government to dictate to us what information we must send them about our children?

What Does The State Board of Education Care About?

The Missouri Coalition Against Common Core gave two presentations to the State Board of Education on January 14th. Dr. Mary Byrne, Ed.D. of MO and Dr. Karen Effram, M.D. of Florida made presentations regarding issues surrounding the Common Core State Standards. Dr. Byrne focused on statutory violations that occurred with their adoption. Dr. Effram focused on the developmental inappropriateness of the early grade standards. The presentations were well received and opened a line of communication between the coalition and the Board.

During the Q&A segment, Board member Charlie Shields commented, "Frankly, that isn't important to me, the how we got here," referring to the history of the development of the standards provided in Byrne's presentation. Shields was not on the board in 2010, when they voted to adopt the Common Core Standards, having only joined in 2012, so it may be somewhat understandable that he is not concerned about history he can't change. However, Dr. Byrne presented several sections of state statute, relating to how our standards are to be developed, that were violated by the development process used for common core standards. That he should be concerned about.

After Dr. Effram reported that none of the chief architects of the common core standards had ever taught in the classroom, Peter Herschend, Board President said, "I don't care about that." This should, however, be of interest to Board members as they are charged with directing the state's education system within the boundaries set by state law. State law requires standards to be developed by a majority of active classroom teachers selected by professional organizations from the state. Herschend should care about Coleman, Zimba and Pimmental's lack of classroom teaching experience. He said he just wanted what was best for Missouri. The only way to determine what that is, is to look to the statutes, developed by our representative deliberative body, which set the guidelines to know "what is good for Missouri." Common Core does not meet that definition.

The point of the presentations was to show that state statute indicates that Missouri should have control of the standards by being the chief developer of them. Common Core standards, by definition take that control out of the state by requiring us to use standards that are common to all the other states. Once we make even one change we will no longer, by definition, have standards that are common. If the State Board were to determine that their priority was to be common with other states, then the onus is on them to get the legislature change state statute to allow them to do that.

NAACP Calls For Nicastro Resignation

The St. Louis County branch of the NAACP is calling for the resignation of Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro. They’re upset over Nicastro’s push to force Missouri’s unaccredited school districts into a super school district.

It is not just urban districts that Nicastro would like to merge into larger districts. The Missouri School Improvement Plan (MSIP5) looks designed to cause small rural districts to fail and be merged into larger districts. Watch for representatives from those districts to start calling for new leadership.

The piling on continues. These Democrat Representatives have also called for her resignation.

Rep. Genise Montecillo; Sen. Paul LeVota; Rep. Bonnaye Mims; Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal; Rep. Judy Morgan; Rep. John Mayfield; Rep. Ira Anders; Rep. Joe Runions.

Read more here:

See the full story and video on Fox2

Two Democrat Senators Call For Nicastro's Resignation reports Sen. Paul LeVota of Independence and House member Genise Montecillo of St. Louis have called for the resignation of Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro. Last week emails surfaced detailing the Commissioner’s involvement in drafting legislation regarding teacher evaluations with special interest groups and changing fiscal impact figures to local districts.

Nicastro has not been a great administrator, practicing her own brand of heavy-handed top down micromanagement that she was known for when she was superintendent, 

but the mess of common core cannot be laid entirely at her feet. Remember that our governor signed the state on to "development and implementation" of the common core standards in June 2009, six weeks before Nicastro was signed to be the new Commissioner of Education. In fact, agreement with the governor's solo decision was a requirement for the new commissioner and booted out the second choice candidate who was not so ready to charge head first into a set of untested standards. When it comes to common core, the buck starts and stops with the Governor. If Commissioner Nicastro were to resign, nothing would change with the state's implementation plans for Common Core or SBAC. Only a new Commissioner who publicly states a willingness to re-consider the state's commitment to the standards and standardized tests offers any hope of reason returning to our education path.

Read more about Commissioner Nicastro on Missouri Education Watchdog.

This teacher lays it out beautifully

Today's Wall Street Journal hosted an op-ed piece by a teacher who makes the plain case why common core, among a host of education reforms tried in the last several decades which have not delivered on the promises they made to "fix" education, will not work. It is exactly why so many people do not believe the hype or promises of common core and are reminded of Einstein 's definition of insanity. Those of you who weren't taught the new self exploration way of learning won't be having to Google that definition right now.

What's 12 x 11? Um, Let Me Google That

Contrary to today's educational theories, memorization is critical in the classroom and life.

By David G. Bonagura Jr.

Oct. 30, 2013 6:59 p.m. ET

I'm a bad teacher. Or so I would be labeled by today's leading education professionals. My crime? Not my classroom performance and not my students' test scores. The problem is that I require students to memorize.

My students learn proper grammar by drilling. They memorize vocabulary by writing given words and their definitions multiple times for homework, and then sitting the following day for an oral quiz. They memorize famous quotations by reciting them at the start of class each day.

For centuries, these pedagogical techniques were the hallmark of primary and secondary education. But once John Dewey's educational theories were adopted in public schools beginning in the 1940s, they fell out of vogue, ridiculed and rejected by education professionals across the country as detrimental to learning. In schools of education such techniques are derisively labeled "drill and kill" and "chalk and talk." Instead, these experts preach "child-centered" learning activities that make the teacher the "facilitator" in education, which is understood as a natural process of self-discovery.

This educational philosophy has driven every national educational initiative of the last several decades: New Math, Whole Language, Outcome-based Education and now the Common Core Standards that are being rolled out across the country.

All of the previous initiatives have at least three things in common. First, they didn't work. The U.S. still lags behind the world in education, even though each program, in its day, was touted as the means to bring our children to the top. Second, they all espoused the same child-centered educational philosophy, which has coincided with American students' mediocre performance in the classroom. Third, they rejected memorization out of hand.

Senator Pearce Backs Nixon

Senator Pearce (R-Warrensburg) has just announced that he is completely behind Governor Jay Nixon's education plans. This has led many in his district and around the state to question whether Pearce's loyalties are in the right place. Contact his office with your thoughts. (573) 751-2272

For Immediate Release

JEFFERSON CITY — This week, Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, is looking forward to future fiscal planning for both public K-12 and higher education in Missouri, as the governor has stated that he would like to see all levels of education in this state fully funded by the time he leaves office in January 2017.

“After hearing the governor’s plans for full funding of all levels of education, I can’t help but look ahead,” Sen. Pearce said. “There is no doubt that investing in education today is the best way to invest in Missouri’s future.”

Currently, K-12 public education is funded through a foundation formula instituted by legislation in 2005. The formula is mostly based on the number of students attending a school. However, because of budget hardships, the General Assembly and the governor have not been able to meet full funding potential of the foundation formula.

The Legislature has also had difficulties providing full funding for higher education institutions in recent years. The fiscal squeeze that has affected every state department has not missed colleges or universities. Senator Pearce has made strides in this area by addressing the topic of performance-based funding, a subject brought up by the governor in his recent addresses to higher education leaders in Jefferson City. More than 30 states have already adopted some forms of performance-based funding. The General Assembly will continue to look at research on this possibility.

Lawmakers have passed legislation in recent sessions designed to allow students to move through college more quickly, thereby reducing student debt and lowering the chances of dropping out. House Bill 1042, passed in 2012, requires the Coordinating Board of Higher Education to develop a library of lower division core courses transferable among all Missouri public higher education schools, and create a policy that would foster a reverse transfer program. Senate Bill 381 passed this year and creates innovation campuses, forming partnerships between local high schools, colleges, and businesses to streamline educational opportunities in order for participating students to enter the work force sooner. This is already in place at University of Central Missouri in conjunction with Metropolitan Community Colleges and local school districts.

“As both the chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and vice chairman of the Joint Committee on Education, I am very thankful for the governor’s interest in providing significant funding for all levels of education in Missouri,” Sen. Pearce said. “I am excited to look beyond the fiscal difficulties of the last few years and focus on education as the promise of a bright future for Missouri and our students, as they make their way through the educational path to solid employment opportunities and take their place in the competitive global market.”

For more information on this or any of Sen. Pearce’s legislative actions, visit

Iowa Governor Signs Executive Order Rejecting Common Core

Finally! A governor who gets it. Education is a state right. The federal government has no right to demand that a state adopt certain academic standards in order to receive grant money or other federal funding. Congratulations to Shane Vanderhart of Truth In American Education and Iowans For Local Control.

Here is the text of Branstad’s executive order:

Executive Order Number Eighty-three

WHEREAS, the Iowa Constitution encourages a strong educational foundation by providing that, “[t]he General Assembly shall encourage, by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement” (Iowa Const. art. IX, 2d, § 3); and

WHEREAS, rigorous state standards detailing expected academic achievement are essential to provide a high-quality education, which is key to students’ futures and the future of this state; and

WHEREAS, the adoption of state standards should be done in an open, transparent way that includes opportunities for Iowans to review and offer input; and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of local school districts to make decisions related to curricula, instruction, and learning materials consistent with state academic standards; and

WHEREAS, it is inappropriate for the federal government to require as a condition of application of federal grants the adoption of any federally developed standards; and

WHEREAS, the protection of student and family privacy is paramount and Iowa must protect its citizens against intrusive, unnecessary data collection and tracking.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Terry E. Branstad, Governor of the State of Iowa, declare the following:

The State of Iowa, not the federal government or any other organization, shall determine the content of Iowa’s state academic standards, which are known as the Iowa Core. The Iowa Department of Education shall develop a regular review cycle for the Iowa Core, including public comment, to determine the contents of and to continually improve state academic standards.

The State of Iowa, not the federal government or any other organization, shall choose the statewide assessments that will measure how well students have mastered the Iowa Core. School districts may also choose to use additional assessments to measure student academic progress.

The collection of student data by school districts and the Iowa Department of Education shall be done in a manner consistent with state and federal laws intended to protect student and family privacy. Only aggregate student data shall be provided to the federal government to comply with federal laws.

No Constitutional right of Iowa children and their families shall be violated through an overreach by the federal government into Iowa’s educational system.









The order also states that school districts may also choose to use additional assessments to measure student progress, breaking the monopoly of the massive test providers like Pearson and ACT.

Posted 10-18-2013 by A. Gassel

Top Ten Professors Calling Out Common Core

From by Christel Swasey

I can hardly wait to quote these ten brilliant American professors who have spoken out to say that the Common Core is far from its claim of representing academic excellence; that it’s a sheer academic tragedy.

But before I share the professors’ words, let me tell you what sparked today’s post.

I saw for the first time this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) that says OUT LOUD that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; that it’s silly to waste time educating all high school graduates as high as the level of Algebra II.

No joke. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.

Outragous, yes. But absolutely factual: this is what they are telling America: Read these Common Core proponents’ lips:

“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

(Maybe Common Core proponents better quit using the word “rigorous.”)

Read the professors comments here

National Opposition To Common Core Is Growing

"What Education Secretary Arne Duncan hailed in 2010 as a “quiet revolution” in American education has metastasized into a full-blown battle now being waged in Congress and state houses and at school board meetings, rallies and classrooms around the country."

Read more:

Common Core Causing Classroom Chaos

A full year before students around the nation submit to the new Common Core standardized tests, the federally-backed program is already causing chaos and confusion at local school board meetings, in the classroom and at the dinner table.

As critics fear Washington is poised to take control of what and how local districts teach kids, school administrators are adopting new curriculum in an effort to ensure their students outperform their peers and parents worry that their children are being used as academic guinea pigs. As the program gets closer to full implementation, a full-blown backlash is developing despite assurances from supporters that it is merely a test aimed at establishing a national standard.

Teacher Talks About Her First Days With Full-blown Common Core

In this post I write about my experience as a traditional public school teacher facing Common Core (CCSS). Before I do so, there are a few statements I must offer.

First, let me be clear that I am writing about my own experiences on my own blog using my own computer and sitting in my own home on my own time.

Second, I teach in a wonderful school for an administration that cares about their students. The atmosphere at my school is one of undeniable support. Our school is a strong community, one that is always seeking to grow. My district has a solid, established reputation statewide.

Third, if I am going to endeavor to teach my students to think critically and to act with conviction, I must first model as much myself.

And now, for my experience with CCSS.

In 2010, I attended my first department meeting in which I was told our district would be phasing out our curriculum and phasing in something called the Common Core. I was told that it would be simpler for having fewer objectives. We were to phase in slowly, with the transition being complete for the 2014-15 school year. I was also told that there would be assessments but that these were not written yet.

This was two years prior to passage of legislation that my job would depend upon student test scores, so that issue was not part of the discussion.

In other meetings, I was told that CCSS required that I teach differently; the example given then was about some new way to do math. I am not sure why this was presented in an English department meeting, but it was.

Last year was our first (and, it turns out, only) transitional year. The curriculum reminded me of moving from one house into a temporary residence on the way to Who Knows Where. Our curriculum specialist tried to help us choose materials for this curriculum in transition. We used what books we had available. This was also the first year that teachers were evaluated using student test scores. I was very aware that I had little control over how my students fared on the End of Course (EOC) test. My goal was to teach; this I kept as my focus...

Read more on our Teachers Speak Out tab.

Colorado School District Passes Resolution Against CC

CASTLE ROCK – Douglas County Board of Education passed a resolution on Tuesday night opposing the Common Core State Standards, more commonly referred to as Common Core, in the specific case of the Douglas County School District.

The Resolution passed unanimously at tonight's monthly board meeting. According to the Resolution, the Douglas County School Board "expressed its opposition to the uniform imposition of Common Core Standards in the specific case of Douglas County, because DCSD's standards are more rigorous, more demanding, more thorough, and reflect higher expectations and aspirations for our students than any national standard now in existence, including the Common Core Standards."

Colorado adopted Common Core's standards on August 2, 2010. The full implementation begins the upcoming school year of 2013-14.

The full resolution is as follows:

WHEREAS, Colorado is a local control state, where local school boards are constitutionally granted broad discretion in setting curriculum and standards for their students; and

WHEREAS, Douglas County School District has used that broad local control to pursue world-class education innovations and the most rigorous academic standards anywhere -- innovations and standards that will prepare our students for the demands of the 21st century workplace and global economy, and;

WHEREAS, the Common Core Standards, while reasonable and appropriate for many school districts to emulate, are not reasonable or appropriate in Douglas County because our District’s standards are more rigorous, more thorough, and more directly tailored to the unique needs of our students, as they prepare for positions of leadership in the 21st century workforce and global economy[,] and

WHEREAS, the District’s leadership team has reviewed the Common Core Standards, and determined that they do not meet the expectations this District has for all of our students, and, for more than a year has been working in collaboration with teachers across the District to develop a more rigorous and thorough curriculum, the Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum (GVC’s) that will best prepare our students for the college or career of their choice in the 21st century.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Douglas County School District Board of Education hereby expresses its general opposition to a one-size-fits-all application of the Common Core Standards, because local school districts should retain broad latitude in establishing customized, rigorous and high standards and guidelines for the maximum educational attainment of all students in their specific communities. More particularly, the Douglas County School Board expresses its opposition to the uniform imposition of Common Core Standards in the specific case of Douglas County, because the Douglas County School District's standards are more rigorous, more demanding, more thorough, and reflect higher expectations and aspirations for our students than any national standard now in existence, including the Common Core Standards. In Douglas County, our taxpayers, parents, teachers and students expect the very highest and rigorous standards – as embodied in our Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum – that will allow our students to learn today and lead tomorrow. The Douglas County Board of Education is resolved and committed to meet or exceed those expectations, at every turn, for every student, in every school.

Common Core Turns Kids Against Our Values

Take a peak at the SBAC test that our kids will be taking in 2015.

The Practice Test can be taken on any Internet-connected computer using a current Web browser including:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Apple Safari

Currently, Microsoft Internet Explorer is not a supported browser. SBAC is looking into supporting IE 9 and 10 by fall 2013.

Common Core is All Sunshine and Lollipops in Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau news station KFVS ran a piece on Common Core on 7-22-13. They interviewed a school administrator and a teacher who were very positive about Common Core, noting that the children were not likely to notice the changes which of course was never touted as a benefit by the proponents of the standards, nor as a negative by the opponents. Children never notice changes in standards or curriculum because their grade and teacher change every year. 

The teacher happily announced that children in Cape Girardeau would be learning the exact same things as children in Boston. In other words, by narrowing down the vast and wide assortment of things that we might want to pass on to our children to a fixed list developed by a private corporation unaccountable to the public, we are somehow improving education. Nowhere else in the rich culture of America is such homogeneity touted as a desirable goal.

They did provide one quote from the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core which is supposed to pass for balanced reporting. Those of you who live around the Cape Girardeau area may want to let KFVS know what you think of their reporting.

Here is another great short video on the origins of the Common Core released by FreedomWorks.

Sitting on the Governor's Desk Awaiting Signature

HB2 addresses the budget for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education starting July 2013 and ending June 30, 2014. It was truly agreed and finally passed on May 9th and is currently sitting on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature.

Here is a link to the bill. It expressly states how and where DESE may spend monies they have received from all revenue sources. Note Section 2.050 on page 4

"To the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education - For the purpose of receiving and expending grants, donations, contracts, and payments from private, federal, and other governmental agencies which may become available between sessions of the General Assembly provided that the General Assembly shall be notified of the source of any new funds and the purpose for which they shall be expended, in writing, prior to the use of said funds, and further provided that no funds shall be used to implement the Common Core Standards

From Federal and Other Funds. .......................................$10,000,000"

It will be telling to see what the Governor, who has sole control of education in this state through the appointment of State Board of Education members, the nomination of a Commissioner who is approved by his appointed SBE members, who in turn sits in control of the entire spectrum of education in this state from early childhood through adult education, special education and teacher training, does with this bill.

Still No Answers From DESE

DESE continues to not answer the public's questions about common core. They have however done a bang up job of scanning the responses to their target questions from May 2nd. Favorite responses to the question "What do you like about Common Core?"

  • I don't know enough to give you an answer.
  • Each state owns their own standards and can adapt as needed. This was followed by the logical question in #2 Why do we need the standards if we already have our own state and local standards?
  • Not so much
  • Zero
  • I do not like Common Core. I will be working against it.

Prompt #1 was left blank on many sheets.

You can read all the pages here.

Posted June 3, 2013

Eye Opening Insight Into CC From A Teacher's Perspective

A special report in the St. Louis Beacon opens with a peek into the world of today's teacher.

"Like many teachers right now, I have a Common Core app on my iPad. Reading through the newly refined learning standards for K-12 students, I am concerned about my IEPs, especially the ELLs who are perhaps also ADD and receive pull-out services, or others whose paras might not be familiar with strand 1.RFS.4, which says that a first grader needs to be able to “read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension” and are only worrying about keeping him from bouncing off the wall when I’m trying to DRA half the class and Tungsten the rest and all the other kids are perfectly silent doing their SSR. I am not at all concerned about my Proficients -- nobody is -- but come next May when MAP rolls around, how will I ever get my Basics and Below Basics where they’ll need to be if I want to avoid getting pic’d? I had a walk-through last week and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t doing any DOK."

That jargon is not exaggerated. It is the language of eduspeak and something that drives the day-to-day functioning of our teachers. The author goes on to talk about the real world impact of Common Core on teachers and students in a way that sheds light on why so many people have a negative gut reaction to a single set of standards that everyone must follow.

"Having an idea of where you’re trying to “get kids” may be fine, these people say, but since all learning emerges out of a highly individual and dynamic interaction between a specific person and her teachers, peers and cultural and social setting, one-goal-for-all may not be an-equitable-system-for-all."

The author pulls out specific standards that may, on their face, appear non-controversial, but upon application in our diverse classrooms present real problems.

"Second problem: Who’s going to teach educators to hear the mother tongue of all students without bias, since this is what has to happen for children to really “adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate” as the Common Core requires (12.SL.6)? Who’s going to explain to the well-meaning teachers in Carthage, Mo., where Latinos constitute more than a quarter of the population, that it is both immoral and conceptually erroneous to say that someone is speaking “broken English.” Human language is the opposite of fragile. It don’t break, it bends."

The article deserves to be read from beginning to end and shared with other teachers and administrators who may have not given much thought to the full impact of a single set of national standards. 

Posted May 6, 2013

Common Core Invading Private/Parochial Schools

Think Common Core is only for public schools? Think again.

Kevin C. Baxter, the superintendent of elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles recalled attending a recent regional conference for Catholic educators where the common core came up.

"We were asked how many were going forward with it, and every hand went up," he said. Los Angeles is not a unique case. Dioces in Philadelphia, Louisville and Arlington VA are also on board with CCSS.

The reasons centered around making schools comparable and concern that college entrance exams will be heavily influenced by CCSS.

Read more about which private schools are heading into CCSS here at Ed Week.

SB210 Laid Aside By The Senate At The End Of Session

Today politics prevailed. The interests of the people were laid aside with SB210 allowing a state department to continue ducking the public's questions and the legislature's authority. Our countdown clock continues and will remain at the top of the MEW page awaiting DESE's response to at least some of the questions the public has about Common Core.

We may never get answers to the conflicting comments we have heard about common core.

The National Governor's Association and common core proponents in general site a main reason for having common standards is so that children moving from state-to-state, district-to-district will not experience an interruption in their education. There will be no subject matter holes because everyone is being taught the same thing. Yet when pressed, DESE insisted in front of a House Committee that Missouri owns the standards and can change them at any time. In fact, all states can, and have, changed the standards. That, by definition, would mean that the standards are no longer "common" among the states and a child would once again experience an interruption in his/her education should he/she move. This would also make the state’s standards out of line with the assessments. So which is it: alignment state-to-state or autonomy to set one's own standards?

DESE staff stated that some schools have been implementing Common Core for 3 years and have shown "tremendous results." How are they calculating these tremendous results? This statement is impossible to make as no common core assessments have been approved or administered. If the results are found in the existing MAP assessment scores, how is that possible? Those tests are not aligned with common core. What is actually being measured? If we are seeing improvement in an existing test, why do we need SBAC tests? The indication from states who were early adopters of CC like Kentucky, is that following curriculum aligned with CC produced a 30% drop in student scores on existing state standardized tests. How are we not seeing a decline, but in fact an improvement?

DESE has stated that they do not share data with the federal government, that it stays in state. But the MOU’s signed by the state with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC) in May 2010 states the consortia will provide “Reliable , valid and fair scores for students and groups that can be used to evaluate student achievement and year-to-year growth; determine school/district/state effectiveness for Title I ESEA…10) Professional development focused on curriculum and lesson development as well as scoring and examination of student work…. 14) A consolidated data reporting system that enhance parents, students, teacher, principal district and state understanding of student progress toward college and career readiness.” SBAC is housed in Washington state.

This means that individual student data will be retained by SBAC who in turn has an agreement with the US Dept of Ed that says it will “Comply with, and where applicable coordinate with the ED staff to fulfill, the program requirements established in the RTTA Notice Inviting Applications and the conditions on the grant awarded, as well as to this agreement, including, but not limited to working with the Department to develop a strategy to make student level data that results from the assessment system available on an ongoing basis for research, including for prospective linking, validity and program improvement studies; subject to applicable privacy laws.” The reality is that once the data leaves the state we no longer have control of where it goes and who has access to it. Changes to FERPA (the laws they are referring to) means there is little appreciable protection of that data. 

Additionally, DESE promised in the Race To The Top application (p.15) that they would “Provide a database accessible to researchers throughout the nation that is the first-ever link between student performance, teaching practices, and leadership decisions.” 

Commissioner Nicastro has said that it is not costing the state any new money to implement common core. She further testified that the reason the RTTT costs were so high was because that application was for a Cadillac program that we were not fully implementing, because we did not get the grant. However, in that grant (p. 40) she wrote Implementation of the reform plan described in this proposal will not stop if the State does not win Race to the Top funding. Missouri has a long tradition of fostering innovative improvements in education, and this will not change. Race to the Top funds will allow the State to move forward aggressively and comprehensively in adopting these reforms. In the absence of Race to the Top funding, the State and its partners would continue moving forward but will do so over a longer time-period and, in some areas, will have to adopt a more incremental approach." 

There are so many more questions which, if answered, would at least provide some clarity as to our direction. Unfortunately, DESE does not seem to believe it is worth their time to provide those points of clarification. They miss the opportunity to have the public on their side and the legislature providing cover for them from the feds. Keep your eye on the answer clock. It looks like it will be here for a long time.

Originally Posted May 18, 2013 on

SB210 Passes Out Of House Ed Committee 17:0!

The hearing on SB210 ran almost two hours this morning. The Committee adjourned to attend the regular House session. They reconvened this evening and voted a substitute bill out 17:0. The bill language was the same as the original Senate Committee substitute, focusing only on Common Core and requiring 2 subject reports, 8 congressional district meetings (with Commissioner Nicastro in attendance) completed by December 31, 2013 and a final report to the Senate and House by January 31, 2014.

The bill now goes to Rules Committee who is expected to turn it around quickly. It will go for a third reading on the House floor and, if voted out, go back to the Senate to be truly agreed and finally passed.

SB210 Voted Out of Rules Committee

The House Rules Committee met tonight and voted 8:3 to pass SB210 on to the House for a third reading. The only Republican voting against the bill was Representative Lair of Disrtict 7. It could be heard by the House tomorrow evening.

SB210 Hearing - House Education Committee

Monday May 13, 2013

12:00 p.m. Hearing Room 6

Click on the bill to the left to sign a witness form in support of SB210. We need 1,000+ to send the message to the House that we want this bill to pass. 

We also really need people to attend the hearing and show the Education Committee how many people want DESE to provide real information about Common Core. If you can make it, plan to arrive around 11:00 a.m.  

SB210 Passes Out of the Senate

Today SB210 was perfected in the Senate. Discussion centered around the public's need for more information on this very large change to our education system.  

Two amendments were added to the bill. One is a long standing amendment to change the timing and process of the decision for the state to take over a district which has lost its accreditation.

The second amendment sets up an interim committee to study the foundation formula. It was noted during the discussion that DESE has not followed the foundation formula in distributing $130 millions dollars to the district. (For context, DESE's budget is $3 billion and the districts contribute another $4 on top of that making the total the state spends on education, out of a $22 billion bugdet, $7 billion.) One impact of this misuse of the foundation formulat is that the St. Louis Special School District has lost $3 million dollars annually. 

For the perfected language click here. The bill now goes to the house for reading and a vote. 

Last Two Weeks of Session Are Crunch Time For Bills

This year's legislative session will end May 17th. That gives us just two weeks to perfect, swap houses, read and finally vote to pass SB210 and HB616. Now is the time to contact your legislator and politely ask that they help get these bills passed this session by supporting them on floor debates and voting in favor of them.

Last week's attempt by DESE to mimic the terms of SB210 fell far short of what the public wants and needs. First of all, a random sampling of 75 districts across the state found only 4 that had posted notices on their district website about the meetings. No notice was listed on the 8 districts websites where the meetings actually took place. District wide alert systems were also not used to let the public know about these sessions. DESE's entire attempt to inform the public about these meetings amounted to a single line on their web page with a link to a press release. Their relutance to cheer from the rooftops about the great new standards they have adopted in the state is perplexing. 

NO questions were answered at the May 2nd meetings. Posting answers to a few questions that they want to respond to because they think they can spin them well on their website does not amount to informing the public about something the National Council of Teachers of English called "an historic national event." DESE's canned presentation including videos that had been posted on their website for 2 weeks (where comment were disabled) was insulting to those who took time to attend. Legislators need to know the true nature of these meeitngs and the continued public desire for more information and an open dialogue with DESE.

It is most meaningful to contact your own senator and representative. They are there to represent their district. The other people you could contact would be Senators Dempsey and Richards to encourage them to move the bill through perfection, and Senators Lamping & Nieves to thank them for sponsoring the bill. The same goes for Representative Bahr for HB616.

Call or email Monday May 6th.

Linderman Unleashed on Natural News Radio speaks with Gretchen and Anne on Common Core. Listen live on-line Thursday May 2nd at 1:00 CST

Curt Linderman brings you informative and insightful commentary on politics, autism, vaccines, GMOs, agriculture, natural living, organics, homeopathy, pharma and much more in a blue collar, no nonsense way that will be appreciated by most and hated by some. Show archives also available here

Congressman Luetkemeyer Letter to US DoED

Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) has written, and is gathering co-signers in Washington for, a letter expressing serious concerns with the manner in which the US Department of Education has involved itself with Common Core standards. The letter also notes the highly irregular process used to change the Congressional FERPA allowing the sharing of individual student records. The letter was written with the oversight of the House Education & Workforce Committee and already has interest from republican representatives in UT, IN, KS, MN, MI and even a democrat in IL. 

Our understanding from Congressman Luetkemeyer's staff is that Common Core is a very hot topic in DC. That must mean we are on the right path in opposing it.

Posted April 16, 2013

Update April 30, 2013

Thirty three congressmen along with Luetkemeyer signed the letter and sent it on to Secretary Duncan. Final Version Here


Bishop (UT-01)              Blackburn (TN-07)

Bentivolia (MI-11)          Yoder (KS-03)

Bachmann (MN-06)         Benishek (MI-01)

Massie (KY-04)                 Johnson (OH-06)

Stockman (TX-36)            Harrison (MD-01)

Crawford (AR-01)             Nugent (FL-11)

Chaffetz (UT-03)              Garrett (NJ-05)

Wagner (MO-02)              Kingston (GA-01)

Hartzler (MO-04)             Lamborn (CO-05)

Huelskamp (KS-01)          Radel (FL-19)

McKinley (WV-01)              Rigell (VA-02)

Graves (MO-06)               Yoho (FL-03)

Jordan (OH-04)               Wenstrup (OH-02)

Gosar (AZ-04)                  Olson (TX-22)

Duncan (TN-02)                Flemming (LA-04)

Nuegebauer (TX-19)          Jenkins (KS-02)

Also available for download from the Documents tab

Chesterfield Common Core Panel Draws a Large Crowd

An overflow crowd of around 200 attended the information panel on Common Core April 25th in Chesterfield MO. The key speaker was Dr. Sandra Stotsky who was an invited member of the Common Core Standards validation committee. Dr. Stotsky provided a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes how the standards were developed, how expert criticisms were ignored, and explained some of the pedagogical problems with the standards. 

Gretchen Logue provided information on the National Data Model that is being implemented simultaneously with Common Core and the various agreements that have been signed or are in process which allow Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that is collected on students and teachers to be shared outside the school district and the state.

Senators Lamping and Nieves reported on the legislation that is working its way through both the House and Senate that address Common Core. SB210 will require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to report to the public on the costs associated with this program that DESE is touting as being so wonderful. DESE will also be required to inform the public about the data they are collecting, how it will be collected, how it will be protected, who will have access to it etc. 

Anne Gassel talked about the truly grassroots efforts underway in the state and across the country to make the public aware of Common Core and question this attempt to, through surrogates, push national standards that are neither of the highest quality, nor have any research to support their efficacy.

The audience, made up of both those who had some knowledge of CC and those who knew almost nothing about the topic, was appreciative of the organizers' efforts to provide more information. Stacy White and Cindy Hostettler arranged for Dr. Stotsky to attend and helped publicize the event. Children of the Light Productions were kind enought to videotape the event and will have video for us to post shortly. 

Posted April 26, 2013

Update April 30, 2013

Videos now posted on Youtube

The Culture Vigilante talks about Common Core with Dr. Brian Day of The National Home Education Research Institute, William Estrada of HSLDA/ , and Gretchen Logue and Anne Gassel of MCACC. 

Michigan House Votes To Defund Common Core

From Caffeinated Thoughts - Shane Vander Hart

The Michigan House today approved the Department of Education budget (HB4328) on a 59-51 vote with an amendment which does not allow them to implement Common Core State Standards or “Smarter Balanced Assessments”. The amendment was sponsored by State Rep. Tom McMillin, the amendment is similar to House Bill 4276 which is currently before the House Education Committee.

The amendment reads:

Funds appropriated in Part 1 (MDE’s full budget) shall not be used to fund the Common Core State Standards Initiative or Smarter Balanced Assessments. Funds shall not be used to implement programs or student assessments created by the Common Core State Standards Initiative or Smarter Balance Assessments.

It should be noted that Common Core State Standards were never approved by a Michigan Legislature (or any state legislature for that matter). A press release sent by McMillin noted said that “Concerns have been raised about the State Board of Education exceeding its authority as it attempts to implement standards in Michigan schools that were created by a private, national organization, the National Governor’s Association. The National Governor’s Association controls the content of the Common Core State Standards, and the privately-owned “Smarter Balanced Assessments” align with those standards.”

Read the full article here.

HB616 Voted Out of Rules Committee

Today the House Rules Committee voted 7:5 to send HB616 to the House floor for debate. Many thanks to Chairman Riddle and Representatives Jones, Cox, Elmer, Guernsey, Leara and Scharnhorst for moving this bill foward!

Posted April 18, 2013

Senator Grassley Letter Seeks to Cut Off Federal Funding for Common Core

From a Caffeinated Thoughts post today by Shane Vander Hart

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is asking his colleagues to co-sign a letter asking the Senate Appropriations Committee that funds education to cut off all future funds that would allow the Obama administration to “cajole state’s” into participating in the Common Core State Standards and it’s assessments.

His office in an email sent late this afternoon document the steps the Obama administration has taken to push states to adopt the Common Core.

  • Making adoption of Common Core a pre-requisite for a state even being able to compete for Race to the Top funds.
  • Directly funding the two assessment consortia developing tests aligned to Common Core using Race to the Top funds.
  • Assembling a panel to review the work of the two assessment consortia.
  • Making implementation of Common Core or coordination with Common Core a funding priority for other, unrelated competitive grants administered by the Department of Education.
  • Making participation in Common Core essentially a prerequisite for being awarded a waiver from the Department of requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act.

Read the full text of the letter on Shane's blog. Senators have until April 25th to sign on to this letter in order for the Appropriations Committee to consider it. Time to contact Blunt and McCaskill.

Update April 26, 2013

The final draft of the letter Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote regarding the Common Core was sent to Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee this afternoon. The letter requested language to prohibit the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, it’s assessments and a federal review panel recently established to review the assessment consortiums. He had eight senators co-sign with him: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Posted April 17, 2013

RNC Passess Resolution Against Common Core

This weekend the Republican National Committee unanimously passed a resolution against Common Core Standards and student data collection. In it they stated clearly that Republicans do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education. An excerpt from the full text reads:

... RESOLVED, the Republican National Committee recognizes the CCSS for what it is– an inappropriate overreach to standardize and control the education of our children so they will conform to a preconceived “normal,” and, be it further

RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee rejects the collection of personal student data for any non-educational purpose without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent and that it rejects the sharing of such personal data, without the prior written consent of an adult student or a child student’s parent, with any person or entity other than schools or education agencies within the state 

To read the full resolution go to

Common Core seeks to end, by fiat, the debate over what is best for teaching our children. These decisions need to be made at the local level where those who can best determine where to allocate limited resources to produce the optimal outcome have control. HB616 will return control of education to our state and to our districts and we ask you to support it.

Posted April 15, 2013

 Anne Gassel appeared on the Drew & Dottie show to talk about Common Core and MCACC's efforts in our state.

(click on the logo to get the podcast.)

House Bill 616 - BAHR


Prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting and implementing the standards for public schools developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative.

Senate Bill 210 - LAMPING, Co-sponsor NIEVES

This act requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to conduct at least one public hearing in each Missouri congressional district prior to the full implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The Department must notify school districts and parents of public school students of the hearings at least two weeks in advance. At least two weeks prior to the first of the public hearings, the Department must perform a fiscal analysis of the projected cost to the state and school districts of the implementation of the

Common Core State Standards. The Department must also prepare, at least two weeks prior to the first of the public hearings, a report identifying any data that will be collected as a result of the Common Core State Standards and any governmental or quasi- governmental entities or consortium that collects or receives any data. These reports must be published on the Department's website and must be provided to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Joint Committee on Education. 

Contact your legislator and tell them you want local control of education.

Which DESE district meeting on Common Core will you be attending on May 2nd
  free polls 

DESE announced its plans to hold simultaneous meetings around the state to "communicate" about Common Core. The meetings are planned for May 2nd from 6:45 - 8:00 p.m. in these locations:

Hazelwood District Office                                   Springfield Kraft Administrative Center

15955 New Halls Ferry Rd                                   Rooms A&B 1359 East St. Louis

Florissant, MO 63031                                           Springfield, MO 65802

Lindbergh District Office                                    Marceline Walsworth Community Center

4900 South Lindbergh Blvd.                                124 East Richie (Downtown)

St.Louis, MO 6 3126                                            Marceline, MO 64658

Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center (CTC), Room 110

1080 South Silver Springs Road

Cape Girardeau, MO 63703

Camdenton School District                                   Warrensburg Middle School

Hawthorn Elementary School                                Library Media Center

296 Minor Street                                                   640 East Gay Street

Camdenton, MO 65020                                          Warrensburg, MO 64093

Center Senior High School Cafeteria

8715 Holmes Road

Kansas City, MO 64131

These meetings are unrelated to the ones called for in SB210. DESE says they will have information available in advance of the meeting at The format will be entirely up to them.

Alert your networks. Let's make sure we are there with lots of questions. They need to see how not "state-led" or supported Common Core really is.

"Education Reporter" Says Many State Math Standards Are Better Than Common Core

"All American public schools except those in Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have started teaching to nationalized Common Core (CC) math standards. (Minnesota adopted the English Common Core standards, but refused the math standards.)

The math standards are controversial. Many reject the idea of federal control of what has been a state and local responsibility. Concepts and methods of instruction include some that are experimental – new and untried – suggesting that perhaps some prior testing of the efficacy would have been prudent. Some experts claim the CC standards are inferior to the previous standards of many states, and rather than strengthening U.S. students’ performance in comparison to international results, the new standards will cause our students’ performance to decline...."

Frontline Magazine Talks Common Core

"This is a war, not just a battle, and Common Core is the latest skirmish that is the current front line of this war. It follows previous skirmishes in the 1930s over Progressive Education, the 1950s over Secular Humanist Education and more recently in the1990s over Outcome Based Education. To understand this war being fought in state legislatures in Missouri and other states, we must examine the philosophy and worldview of those behind the Common Core. Originally emanating from Europe via the universities and moving through teacher education schools and then into the classroom: It has become the Long War to remake America..."

Read More at the Constitutional Coalition April 2013 Frontline

SB210 Voted Out Of Committee

Today the Senate Education Committee voted out SB210 by a vote of 9:0. The vote was on a committee substitute bill that will require to DESE to provide two reports; 1) On the cost of Common Core implementation both to the state and to the individual districts and 2) On the data being collected on our children (who collects what data on whom, where is it entered, how is it protected, who is it shared with etc.) Once those reports are produced DESE would have to present them publicly in each of the eight congressional districts thus informing the public of two of the biggest reasons to oppose Common Core.

United Opt Out National To Occupy the DOE April 4th-7th

United Opt Out National, a movement to end corporate education reform, is planning to occupy the US Departmnet of Education this week starting April 4th. The event will take place at the Dept. of Education, 400 Maryland Ave, SW , Washington, DC outside in the plaza on the north side of the building.A short scheudle of events is available here, with more details available on their website here.

The event opens at 9:00 a.m. on April 4th. Diane Ravitch will be speaking at 3:00 on the 4th. There is a full list of speakers who will be there until Sunday April 7th. 

UOON is made up of parents, educators, students and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education.

House Bill 616 Voted Out Of Committee

Representative Kurt Bahr's house bill 616 was voted out of the Downsizing State Government Committee 8:4 today along party lines. HB616 requires the state to stop implementation of Common Core Standards and Assessments.

Parents, principals and teachers continue, as they learn more about the full scope of the Common Core initiative, to join the ranks of supporters of the Missouri Coalition Against Common Core. The slick marketing of this initiative to teachers and administrators over the last twelve months, paid for heavily by the Gates Foundation, cannot overcome the deeply worrisome aspects of cost, loss of control and intrusive data collection on our children.

Many veteran teachers are all too familiar with the constructivist approach to teaching math inherent with CC and know that it does not work for a significant portion of students. Higher education teachers know that it will leave those unable to afford supplemental math enrichment in k-12 without the math skills necessary to complete college degree programs that rely heavily on mathematics like engineering without paying for extra math courses in college. Those in the language arts reject the heavy emphasis on informational text reading and analysis knowing that the research does not support that as a good path path to developing future writers.

MCACC provided expert witnesses at both the House and Senate hearings on Anti-Common Core legislation. Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project was one of them. He will be on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze tv tonight at 5:00 pm central talking about Common Core. Go to to watch if you don't have Dish Network TV.

School Superintendents Commit Districts to Supporting DESE on Common Core

On March 6th, DESE distributed an information packet to House members stating their opposition to HB616. Included in that packet was a list of approximately 60 school districts who appear to support DESE's Statement. In at least two of those districts, the school board was never asked to vote on their support for DESE's statement. The superintendent alone gave DESE permission to list his district. This happened in Lindbergh and Kirkwood school districts. Was your district listed without School Board approval? (see list below)

Do you or your school board members agree that your superintendent can speak unilaterally for your district on questions of policy? If not, your school board needs to make it clear to your superintendent when they can make these decisions alone and when they must get Board approval. They will only be accountable to the public if they are held accountable.

House and Senate Hold Hearings On Common Core

On Wednesday March 6th the Senate Education Committee held a hearing on Senator Lamping's SB210. Testimony in support of the legislation was delivered by Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project (APP), Ze'ev Wurman of the Hoover Institution, Sandra Stotsky Professor Emeritus of Education Reform, University of Arkansas and former Senior Associate Commissioner of Education of the State of Massachusetts, Jane Robbins of APP and Anne Gassel of MCACC. Our testimony addressed the relatively poor quality of the CC standards, the violations of Missouri Statute in their adoption process, the lack of international benchmarking and any pilot data to support their effectiveness. We also addressed the student data that will be collected and shared by the SBAC consortia with the US Dept of Education who, through changes to the FERPA in 2011, is now able to share that data with other federal agencies and third parties.

On Thursday, the same witnesses supplied testimony in favor of Representative Bahr's HB616 to the House Downsizing State Govenrment Committee. Bill Evers, former Assistant Secretary of Education 2007-2009 also testified to the House Committee about why the opposition's "sunk cost" argument (we've already spent so much implementing CC so far) is not valid. He provided a view of what Missouri's standards could look like if the bills passed.

Additional written comments were submitted by Wes Scroggins of Missouri State University and Mark Garrison of D'Youville College, and James Shuls of Show Me Institute. Sheila Kaplan an information and policy expert and researcher, founder of Education New York also provided written testimony on the Electronic Information Privacy Center's lawsuit against Secretary of Education Duncan challenging the legality of his changes to the FERPA laws. These testimonies will be published on the Missouri Education Watchdog Site as well as in our resources tab on this site.

We highly encourage anyone, especially teachers, who see problems with the Common Core standards to contact their representative on these two committees (house, senate) in the next week to voice your support for this legislation and ask that it be voted out of committee.

House Bill 616 Filed

On Thursday February 14th Representative Kurt Bahr filed HB616 which prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards for public schools developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative or any other statewide education standards without the approval of the General Assembly.

Alabama Backs out of SBAC

We had heard rumors that there was something going on in Alabama. State Board of Education member Betty Peters has been ringing the bell about Common Core for years. Now there is something to celebrate.

EdWeek broke the news today that Alabama has withdrawn from both testing consortia, Smarter Balanced and PARCC. The state's assessment director, Gloria Turner confirmed that they will not longer participate in the consortia developed testing. They will "pursue a different avenue for assessments."

Back in 2011 Governor Robert Bentley, who sits as President of the State School Board in AL, introduced a resolution to rescind that state's adoption of the standards. His vote, along with that of board members Betty Peters and Stephanie Bell, was unfortunately not enough to get the resolution passed.

The news is not totally unepxected. Alabama has been lukewarm about their involvement in the consortia from the start. They were only an advisory state in both consortia which meant they had no vote in the consortia. Back in September at the advisory meeting they were asking if there would be alternatives to the planned on-line assessments.

Missouri, on the other hand, is a governing member of the Smart Balanced Consortia. You can only belong to one group if you want to be a governing member and have a vote.

The news is a mixed bag for Common Core. Director Turner said that the state plans to continue implementation of the standards.

Senator Lamping Files Bill To Get Missouri Out Of Common Core

On Thursday January 24th, Senator Lamping of the 24th District introduced SB210 which prohibits the State Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards for public schools developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative. It has not yet been decided which committee will consider this legislation although the General Laws Committee is being considered.

A group from MCACC visited the capitol on January 23rd and met with a number of Senators and Representatives to bring the situation with Common Core to their attention. Many were not familiar with what was happening with state standards or the lengths that DESE and the State Board of Education have gone to to keep this activity under the radar. Senator Lamping was one of the few legislators who knew about Common Core and was pleased to see that there was public support for his position that the state should not be forced to adopt these essentially national standards.

In 2012 Representative Kurt Bahr filed a bill to get our state out of Common Core, but the bill never got out of Committee. It was blocked by the Committee Chair Representative Dieckhaus. It is expected that the bill will be filed again in the House. This time it has wider support including that of Speaker Jones. 

Contact your legislator to let them know you oppose the implementation of Common Core Standards and Assessments in our state and would like them to support the legislation introduced this session.

Common Core and Agenda 21

There’s an interesting article about Obama’s call for the U.S. to pay for education of the world. It’s ”A Global Fund for Education: Achieving Education for All” that you can read in full here:

Its summary states: “In order to realize the world’s commitment to ensuring education for all by 2015, important innovations and reforms will be needed in the governance and financing of global education. In 2008, Presidential Candidate Barack Obama committed to making sure that every child has the chance to learn by creating a Global Fund for Education. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently called for a new architecture of global cooperation… A new Global Fund for Education… must be capable of mobilizing the approximately $7 billion annually still needed to achieve education for all, while holding all stakeholders accountable for achieving results with these resources. None of these objectives will be achieved without a major rethinking of the global education architecture and an evolution of current mechanisms for financing education… Achieving these two Millennium Development Goals, and the broader Education for All Goals… will require more capable international institutions.”

Meanwhile, there’s a United Nations/UNESCO program called “Education For All” that involves the same ideas and the very same key people as “Common Core”. And there’s also an “Education, Public Awareness and Training” chapter in the U.N.’s Agenda 21 goals.

Show Me Thoughts On Common Core

Show Me Institute may finally be catching on that there's a problem with Common Core. James Shul, Education Policy Analyst, wrote about it and wants comments on CCSS. Let's flood them with comments and get them on our team.