Sunday, January 30, 2011

Washington Does Not Need or Want the Common Core State Standards

Are you in favor of lowering the quality of math education in the state of Washington? Are you in favor of turning local control of our schools over to people outside of Washington? Are you in favor of letting unknown and unaccountable experts outside of Washington determine the content to be taught in our local schools? Are you in favor of local school districts unexpectedly being forced to absorb exorbitant professional development costs with your tax dollar without any voice?

Washington State is poised to formally adopt a set of nationally developed education standards, the Common Core State Standards for reading, writing, and mathematics. These standards would replace Washington’s existing locally-developed math standards.

Washington’s current math standards are clearer, more detailed, more explicit, and more coherent. The WA standards are rigorous with critical content well prioritized, and were given an “A” rating in 2010 Fordham Institute review, exceeding the “A-“ rating the Common Core State Standards for math received.

The Common Core State Standards for math will not align with Washington’s current textbook recommendations, recently purchased and implemented by many districts statewide.

WA developed, adopted, and implemented new math standards in 2008. The financial cost and momentum lost to implement the Common Core State Standards for math is not justified, especially in light of the continuing rollout and training underway with Washington’s 2008 math standards

The US Coalition for World Class Math, the Fordham Institute, Where’s the Math?, and Stanford Math Professor James Milgram are among many groups and individuals who have completed detailed studies of the Common Core State Standards for math. In very general terms, here are some of the deficiencies they found.

These standards are not internationally benchmarked and delay development of some key concepts and skills compared to the highest achieving nations.

To get states to sign on board with these standards prior to their development, this promise was made: “The standards will be research- and evidence-based, aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills, and be internationally benchmarked.”

Upon the release of the standards this promise was toned down to now say the standards “Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society”. There is a considerable and significant difference between being internationally benchmarked and being informed by. Most media, states, and organizations still use the initial propaganda and claim the standards are internationally benchmarked when in fact they aren’t.

These standards are not stakeholder friendly. They include significant mathematical sophistication, but are written at a level beyond the understanding of most parents, students, administrators, decision makers and many teachers. Try reading some standards for yourself.

The lack of clarity, specificity, and coherence will lead to a lack of uniformity in instruction and assessment.

The inappropriate placement of standards, including the delayed requirement for standard algorithms, will hinder student success and waste valuable instructional time.

The uneven treatment of important topics will result in an inefficient use of instructional and practice time with too much effort devoted to some topics and not enough time devoted to others.

The high school standards are not well organized and some important topics are not sufficiently covered. The standards have not been divided into clearly defined courses that we may understand.

The cost of implementing the CCSS will be exorbitant. Much of the cost for necessary professional development will unexpectedly be borne by local school districts.

The CCSS are untested and unproven. Many states have adopted them in what amounts to a massive experiment with outcomes that are uncertain. The only way Washington should participate in this experiment is as a control group with the state continuing to use our existing excellent math standards.

Adoption of the CCSS will result in the loss of local control over content at the local district and state level. A non-government group outside the State of Washington developed the CCSS. This group owns the standards and has a copyright on them. Control over content and changes to the CCSS will lie in hands of so called “experts” outside of Washington State and outside of the federal government.

This spring, the legislature authorized the superintendent of public instruction to provisionally adopt the common core state standards by August 2, 2010. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn has provisionally adopted these standards. In the 2011 legislative session, the legislature can direct the superintendent to not adopt these standards. Please contact your legislators and ask them to reject the adoption of these standards in the interest of a quality math education for our students.

Whose agenda is it to adopt the CCSS? Did the citizens and taxpayers of Washington ask for this or is it the agenda driven by those outside the State of Washington like the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers which seem to be influencing our governor and superintendent of public instruction? Hopefully, the legislature will be accountable to the citizens and taxpayers of the state.

Important information

The legislature passed SB 6696 last year in the 2010 legislative session. Section 601 of this bill authorized the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provisionally adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by August 2, 2010. Unless the current 2011 legislature directs otherwise, the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics will be the officially adopted standards for the State of Washington and OSPI may commence implementation.

Current HB 1443 will authorize the immediate adoption of the CCSS and implementation following the current legislative session.

Urgent Call to Action!!

A public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 4 in Olympia on HB1443, at 1:30 p.m. (subject to change).

Where’s the Math? opposes the adoption of the CCSS and has taken the position of asking the legislature to delay adoption and implementation for a period of not less than two years. As of yet, no bill has been introduced that will delay or repeal the adoption and implementation of the CCSS. Your help is needed to make this happen.


The House Education Committee and your representatives need to hear your message. Please do the following:

Attend the public hearing on HB 1443.

Call the hotline and ask that they vote no on HB 1443. Ask for legislation to delay or repeal the adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Call your representatives and ask that they introduce and support legislation that will delay or repeal the adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Send emails with the same message to your representatives and to the members of the House Education Committee.

Please urge others to join in this effort by contacting their legislators.

Concerns you may wish address in your communication may include:

The CCSS math standards are weaker and less clear than the current math standards.

The adoption and implementation of the CCSS will be expensive. Local school districts will have to absorb unexpected and unfunded costs. Neither the state nor the local districts can afford it at this time.

The adoption of the CCSS will result in the loss of local control and input.

For additional information and elaboration on these and other concerns, please visit the following websites:

Betrayed - Why Public Education Is Failing Comments on Education and Politics

Washington State & the Common Core State Standards

House Education Committee email address provided below

Find your legislators

Hotline that gets you to everyone in one phone call: 1-800-562-6000

Please tell them to vote “No” to HB1443.

"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength — is the development of our institutions within the concept of individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental element of the American public school system — local direction by boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens. "

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Email or Call the House Education Committee Representatives below and tell them to vote No on HB1443 and Common Core Standards. Even Better: Show up at the Capital House Education hearing room at 1:30pm on Friday Feb 4th to demonstrate your opposition to the Common Core Standards.




Santos, Sharon Tomiko (D) Chair

(360) 786-7944

Lytton, Kristine (D) Vice Chair

(360) 786-7800

Dammeier, Bruce (R) *

(360) 786-7948

Anderson, Glenn (R) **

(360) 786-7876

Ahern, John (R)

(360) 786-7962

Angel, Jan (R)

(360) 786-7964

Billig, Andy (D)

(360) 786-7888

Dahlquist, Cathy (R)

(360) 786-7846

Fagan, Susan (R)

(360) 786-7942

Finn, Fred (D)

(360) 786-7902

Haigh, Kathy (D)

(360) 786-7966

Hargrove, Mark (R)

(360) 786-7918

Hunt, Sam (D)

(360) 786-7992

Klippert, Brad (R)

(360) 786-7882

Kretz, Joel (R)

(360) 786-7988

Ladenburg, Connie (D)

(360) 786-7906

Liias, Marko (D)

(360) 786-7972

Maxwell, Marcie (D)

(360) 786-7894

McCoy, John (D)

(360) 786-7864

Probst, Tim (D)

(360) 786-7994

Wilcox, J.T. (R)

(360) 786-7912

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

CCSS: Ask legislators to BLOCK permanent adoption

Block the Permanent Adoption of the Common Core State Standards in Washington State

To all who oppose the Common Core State Standards: Now is the time to let the legislature know how you feel. The first bill authorizing the permanent adoption of the CCSS has hit the education committee HB1443 Click on the bill and read it. Please call your legislators and tell them you are against HB1443.

House Education Committee:
Find your legislators:
Hotline that gets you to everyone in one phone call: 1-800-562-6000

Tell them you don't want unknowns in Washington DC to tell Washingtonians how to educate our children. Please tell them to vote “No” to HB1443.

The Common Core State Standards are known by the acronym CCSS. These are national learning standards organized by the NGA and the CCSSO and supported by the Department of Education. In an effort to “encourage” states to adopt these national standards, the ED supposedly gives states a leg up on Race to the Top applications if they adopted the CCSS.

Several states are backing away from the adoption of the CCSS over issues of money, quality, state sovereignty, and local control. Ask your legislators to
1) vote no to HB1443, and
2) actively prepare or co-sponsor a bill to block the permanent adoption of the CCSS in this state.

Key Points

Last year’s SB6696 requires a “legislative review” of the Common Core State Standards before they can be fully adopted. (The CCSS were provisionally adopted last year by Superintendent Dorn.)

Legislators must 1) vote no to HB1443, and 2) prepare a bill this session to block the permanent adoption of the CCSS.

Bob Dean has prepared a sample bill he’s happy to share.

Objections to the CCSS, In a Nutshell

Expensive: In a time of tightened budgets, the CCSS will cost the state and districts a great deal of money -- no one seems to know exactly how much. It’s certain that the $2 million asked for by OSPI to implement the CCSS is ridiculously low – just the tip of an iceberg. This request does not include district costs, and it’s a small fraction of the taxpayer money spent on previous standards implementations.

Untested: The CCSS are untested and unproved, with no student data to support them. Our children and our teachers are the subjects of this new, federal education experiment.

Weaker: According to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, as well as various analyses done by professionals in Washington State, the CCSS for math are weaker and less clear than Washington State’s current math standards.

Redundant: Washington State taxpayers just spent $1.6 million developing rigorous math standards in 2008. Districts also spent a great deal of taxpayer money on professional development for these new standards, as well as on curricula, conferences and other related costs. The CCSS will initiate another round of expenditures, without any indication of how they will improve student learning or help teachers.

Loss of local input and control: Adoption of the CCSS will result in a loss of local decision-making and parent input on what our children are learning.

Bottom line: The CCSS will cost taxpayers an as-yet unknown amount of money in implementation, adoption of new curricula, and professional development – and they will neither help our children learn better, nor help our teachers teach better. They are counterproductive and a waste of taxpayer money.


Signed into law in 2010, SB6696 was designed to force Washington State to apply for the federal Race to the Top "grant" initiative (RTTT), and to make changes in public education according to a federal vision. Initially, SB6696 would have forced Washington to adopt the CCSS sight unseen, with the word "shall." At that point, the CCSS weren’t even written.

That language was changed to require a legislative review. In 2010, after heavy lobbying around the state and school districts by Gov. Gregoire and Superintendent Dorn, Dorn “provisionally” adopted the CCSS. When OSPI presented on the CCSS in Spokane, they were “full steam ahead” on the CCSS and on the RTTT initiative, even though they could not or would not answer questions about process or long-term effects on students and teachers.

HB1443, introduced to the House Education Committee Jan. 21, 2011, is a wide-ranging bill that also authorizes OSPI to permanently adopt the Common Core State Standards.

Taxpayer Money:
Adopting the CCSS is “supposed” to give states a leg up in competing for Race to the Top grants. Many states have not received RTTT money, even after falling in line with the federal vision. RTTT grants sound like “found” money, but they are still paid for with taxpayer money. Public education does not need more funding through RTTT. It needs to spend the money it gets in more appropriate ways.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, as of January 2010, the country was projected to spend $664 billion (from all sources - federal, state, local and other) on K-12 education. That number doesn’t include later infusions of “emergency” funding, much of which never made it to the classrooms or even to school districts. As you know. Gov. Gregoire redirected $208 million in Edujobs money to the General Fund. The RTTT deal is that 50% of any money WA gets will stay at the state level with OSPI.

Clearly, something needs to be done, but not this. Not the CCSS. Not RTTT. Not the centralization and federalization of public education. Not the removal of the people’s voice and their vote. We need MORE voice, more choice, and more options for parents and teachers. Competition is good for education. The CCSS, however, will add to costs, lower standards, eliminate choice, and ultimately not help children learn better.

Please ask your legislators to 1) vote no to HB1443, and 2) prepare a bill this session to block the permanent adoption of the CCSS.

The House Education Committee is located at

Call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000, or find a list of state legislator e-mail addresses at

If you have any questions, please contact Laurie Rogers at

Reposted with permission from:

Betrayed is a forum on public education designed to inform the public about critical education issues affecting students, teachers, community members, and the country. Site author Laurie Rogers,, also is the author ofBetrayed: How the Education Establishment Has Betrayed America and What You Can Do About It (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2011). Please help parents and teachers take back the classroom from those who have stolen it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Better Educational Services or a Power Grab?

Parents, taxpayers, and all other citizens of the State of Washington should pay close attention to Governor Gregoire’s proposed reform plan to form one consolidated state education agency. If this issue concerns you, please express your concerns to your legislators.

Where did this plan come from? What – and who - is behind it? Is this plan a result of open discussion with parents, taxpayers, and other citizens of Washington State? That doesn’t appear to be the case since even Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn appears to not have been aware of the plan until the governor announced it. Does that not raise a big red flag? If the plan is such a great one, in the best interest of all, why did the Governor not consult with the Superintendent of Public Instruction when developing her plan?

Is this plan, in part if not wholly, coming from or being influenced by interests outside the State of Washington? Is this plan influenced by the National Governors Association (NGA), an association now chaired by Governor Gregoire? Page 7 of the NGA’s document, The Big Reset State Government After the Great Recession, provides the nation’s governors the following guidance:

Because of the dire budget outlook over the next few years—and the loss of federal education stimulus funds after September 2010—states and K-12 districts will need to be more aggressive in streamlining services and exploring cost-reduction options that don’t jeopardize student achievement. Underutilized schools should be considered for closure and districts with small numbers of pupils should be consolidated, which has been shown to save costs (as much as 20 percent).2 Statewide, all districts should consider merging services, purchasing, and outsourcing functions where it is advantageous. Textbook use should be standardized across districts and greater use of online resources should be encouraged, including the use of online courses for students as well as teacher professional development. Even the benefit and retirement system for new teachers should be examined. Often, this system is more generous than that of state employees’ and does not play the role it once did in attracting new teachers, who may not want to spend a lifetime in the profession.

To move forward in some of these areas, governors may find it beneficial to establish an advisory body or commission to examine certain policy options. For example, Governor Barbour in Mississippi recently established the Commission on Education Structure to study the best way to go about consolidation the state’s 152 districts. The commission is a mixture of legislators, education specialists, business leaders, and other stakeholders

Some mention is made about improving outcomes for students, but this plan does not spell out how it will do that. How will this consolidation help our children? How will it help our teachers? There is more talk about accountability, streamlining, government efficiency, consolidation of services, and savings. No figures have been provided showing where the savings will be. Will this save money in one area only to cost more in another as often happens? Where will money be saved? How much?

Accountability? This seems like a move away from being accountable to the people of the State of Washington. Even as elected officials, both Governor Gregoire and Superintendent of Public Instruction Dorn do not seem to be accountable to the people of this state. Instead, their actions and decisions show greater accountability to the NGA, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and other interest groups and individuals as evidenced by their support and push for Race to the Top and “provisional” adoption of the Common Core State Standards. The plan for one education superagency moves accountability farther away from the parents, taxpayers, and other interested citizens of the state.

The streamlining, government efficiency, and consolidation of services aspect of the plan sound good. Who wouldn’t want more government efficiency (oxymoron?)? But should some of this streamlining and consolidation be left to local communities and taxpayers, who should decide what they want? Current agencies can be streamlined without consolidation to effect greater, more efficient services at less cost to the taxpayer, and without removing an elected position at the state level.

The development of a plan to consolidate and streamline should include parents, taxpayers, other interested citizens, the governor, the superintendent of public instruction, other key educational leaders, and legislators working together to reach agreement. The people should be given the opportunity to vote on these critical changes. Without this kind of development, the plan appears to be a power grab driven and influenced by personal interests and factors outside of the State of Washington.

For additional related reading:


Governor Chris Gregoire 2011 POLICY BRIEF

Flip Flop of the Day: Randy Dorn on Gregoire’s Education Plan

Gregoire: Put K-12, higher ed under one dept. to save $

Dorn: Gregoire's education plan 'a smokescreen'

Gregoire wants just one state education agency

Gregoire's educational reforms: good luck on that

Gregoire wants to overhaul education with new state dept.

Gov. Gregoire broadens her sphere of control

Gregoire's reform plans set stage for WA lawmakers

The Big Reset

State Government After the Great Recession

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire Elected Chair of National Governors Association

National Governors Association Redesigning State Government