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States Receive a Reading List: New Standards for Education

[Fundless] Ohanian Comment: Note that the teacher they rounded up to praise the Common Core Standards in English and Math teaches neither subject. Also note that "call me Governor" Roy Romer has a problem with "agreement," one of the Standards.

Apparently, the New York Times was in error. I received this message:

Your information is incorrect. You may want watch my portion of the panel discussion on the CCSSI website. I have been teaching for 18 years and have taught English/ language arts for 15 of the 18. I have taught grades 7-12 as well as served as an adjunct Written Communications instructor at our local community college. I outlined my credentials in my speech. Leah Lechleiter-Luke 2010 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year 2009 Kohl Educational Foundation Fellow Mauston High School Spanish/English Teacher Key Club Advisor

"Common standards ensure that every child across the country is getting the best possible education, no matter where a child lives or what their [sic] background is. The common standards will provide an accessible roadmap for schools, teachers, parents and students, with clear and realistic goals."
-- Gov. Roy Romer, Senior Advisor, The College Board
Press Release CoreStandards.org
June 2, 2010

A little history is important. Achieve was created in 1996 by the nation's governors and corporate leaders (Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM held hands with Gov. Bill Clinton [vice-chair of the National Governors Association] to get America 2000 passed, a forerunner of NCLB). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a big funder of Achieve.

Susan Pimentel, the lead writer on the Common Core English standards, is a Standardisto's Standardisto. For starters, she is English Language Arts Consultant at Achieve. She got her big start in Standards setting with a grant in 1993 from the Walton Family Foundation

Susan Pimentel has a law degree and has considerable history consulting in district standards-setting, districts including Chicago. Her state consulting includes Arizona, California, Georgia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Pimentel is co-author with Denis P. Doyle of Raising the Standard: An Eight Step Action Guide For Schools and Communities. This book was funded by The Walton Family Foundation to lay out the process and content of standards-setting at the community and state levels. The goal was to create a framework in which communities, districts, schools and even states could participate in a self-guided standards-setting process. [See StandardsWork.]

Pimentel is Co-Founder, StandardsWork. Take a look at the Board of Directors.

Know an organization by its links. I've provided hot links to Standards Work bedfellows where I hope you look at the board of directors. As you study this list, ask yourself "Who's Missing?"

  • Achieve

  • American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)

  • American Federation of Teachers

  • Black Alliance for Educational Options

  • Center for Education Reform

  • Core Knowledge

  • Education Trust

  • Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options

  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

  • National Center for Education Statistics, National Center on Education and the Economy

  • Southern Regional Education Board (SREB)

  • Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

  • The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation [ funders]

  • Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education

  • U.S. State Department of Education

  • In October 2007, Ms. Pimentel was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) that oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). She serves on the Assessment Development Committee that approves the content of the NAEP frameworks and NAEP assessment items.

    Surely this is good positioning for the national test which will follow the Common Core.

    Quoting directly from Ms Pimentel's bio: As senior policy consultant to the America Diploma Project, Susan has provided research, technical assistance and policy support to Achieve since the project's inception. She also has served as a lead content developer, coach and trainer in guiding two multistate adult education reform initiatives under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education to develop standards-based education interventions.

    Pimentel is listed as "collaborator" at Education First Consulting.
    Current and recent clients include
  • Achieve Inc.
  • Advance Illinois
  • American Federation of Teachers Education Foundation - Innovation Fund
  • Battelle Memorial Institute
  • The Boeing Company
  • Boston Plan for Excellence
  • Chalkboard Project
  • The Cleveland Foundation
  • Complete College America
  • Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
  • EdSource
  • Thomas B. Fordham Institute
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • The George Gund Foundation
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Iowa West Foundation
  • The Joyce Foundation
  • George Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Mass Insight Education and Research Institute
  • National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
  • Microsoft
  • Ohio College Access Network
  • Partnership for Learning
  • Seattle Public School
  • Stand for Children
  • Stone Foundation
  • Transition Mathematics Project
  • Washington Roundtable
  • Washington State Board of Education

  • This list doesn't even include Texas. Texas curriculum was taken from the writing team and outsourced by the State Board of Education to Standards Work. Susan Pimentel appeared in Texas (representing StandardsWork) to defend the curriculum before the Board before they adopted it in spite of testimonies from the writing team as well as thousands of educators from around the state represented by 17 professional organizations.

    Local press is positing the Common Core as a done deal. And something positive. Note that the New York Times piece below does not indicate that there is one shred of opposition to the Common Core.

    Here is a very preliminary look at the Common Core. The bibliographies supporting the Common Core research base are a joke.

    And remember: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave the National PTA $1 million in December 2009 to promote the Common Core. They are starting a big push in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

    We must fight back. Start reading the Common Core. Join Stop National Standards. Send me your findings: susano@gmavt.net

    By Sam Dillon

    The nation's governors and state school chiefs released on Wednesday a new set of academic standards, their final recommendations for what students should master in English and math as they move from the primary grades through high school graduation.

    The standards, which took a year to write, have been tweaked and refined in recent weeks in response to some of the 10,000 comments the public sent in after a draft was released in March.

    The standards were made public at a news conference on Wednesday in Atlanta.

    Leah Lechleiter-Luke, a Spanish teacher from Mauston, Wis., who is that state's 2010 teacher of the year, said at the conference that the new standards were preferable to her home state's. "It's not that the standards in Wisconsin are so bad, it's just that there are so many of them," she said. "These are more user-friendly."

    The Obama administration hopes that states will quickly adopt the new standards in place of the hodgepodge of current state benchmarks, which vary so significantly that it is impossible to compare test scores from different states. The United States is one of the few developed countries that lacks national standards for its public schools.

    Students whose families move from New York to Georgia or California, for example, often have difficulty adjusting to new schools because classroom work is organized around different standards. The problem has become worse, since many states have weakened standards in recent years to make it easier for schools to avoid sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

    The new standards were written by English and math experts convened last year by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. They are laid out in two documents: Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. With three appendices, the English standards run to nearly 600 pages.

    Under the new math standards, eighth graders would be expected to use the Pythagorean theorem to find distances between points on the coordinate plane and to analyze polygons. Under the English standards, sixth-grade students would be expected to describe how a story's plot unfolds in a series of episodes and how an author develops the narrator's point of view.

    "The standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach," the introduction to the new English standards says. "They do not -- indeed, cannot -- enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn. The standards must therefore be complemented by a well-developed, content-rich curriculum."

    In keeping with those principles, the English standards do not prescribe a reading list, but point to classic poems, plays, short stories, novels and essays to demonstrate the advancing complexity of texts that students should be able to master. On the list of exemplary read-aloud books for second and third graders, for instance, is James Thurber's "Thirteen Clocks." One play cited as appropriate for high school students is "Oedipus Rex," by Sophocles.

    Five English texts are required reading. High school juniors and seniors must study the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. Also, said Susan Pimentel, a consultant in New Hampshire who was lead writer on the English standards, "Students have to read one Shakespeare play -- that's a requirement."

    In a joint letter, Joel I. Klein, the New York Schools chancellor, and 54 other big-city superintendents who are members of the Council of the Great City Schools urged adoption of the standards.

    — Sam Dillon, with comments by Susan Ohanian
    New York Times





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