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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Common Core...It Could Happen to You!

I am beginning to understand what Horace Greeley meant when he said, “common sense is an uncommon thing.” When you put it in the context of Common Core, it becomes a very uncommon thing.

It has become my mission to reach the masses regarding the truth about education in Texas. What I have learned through this process is that there many who abandoned common sense for fear. I feel it is important to honor the opinions of all Texans who care about public education. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, everyone is not entitled to their own truth. While there may be different interpretations of the truth, the truth is absolute.

Education, like many applied sciences, has disputable matters- things on which we can agree to disagree. For example, it is my opinion that all students should learn 21st century skills to prepare them for today's workforce. There are other educators that believe students should only experience rote instruction. While I respectfully disagree (based on my own experience and research), I honor their right to that opinion. If we are ever going to achieve a constructive dialogue about education in Texas we must separate fact from opinion.

The first area where we have to separate fact from opinion is with educational standards. Standards are absolute. They are written in stone and available to all. Consider a standard by its definition - a required level of quality or attainment. The requirements must be clear to achieve the level of quality prescribed in the standard. Our standards in Texas (the TEKS) define the level of content and skills students must attain or achieve at each grade level. The Common Core Standards, though not appropriate for Texas, also prescribe the content and skills to be achieved at each grade level. Love them or hate them, have any opinion you want about them, the fact is: they are standards. They are absolute. How they are implemented is a disputable matter.

Unfortunately, when fear mongers create their own truth we all lose. I have seen a handful of bloggers twist the truth to incite fear for their own monetary gain. They will abandon the context and make outlandish claims for their own purposes. They write in innuendo and make ambiguous generalizations, much like I have in the last few sentences.

For example, there have been several national education conferences in Texas. They come here because Texas is a great model for public education. But, when you consider there are 44 states that use Common Core standards, it would be common sense that there will be sessions on how to implement Common Core at a national conference. Does that mean that there is a plot to bring Common Core to Texas?

In another example, there are several national companies that do business with schools in Texas. They also do business with schools in the 44 states that have adopted Common Core. If a school does business with them, have they suddenly adopted their own standards and are now using Common Core?

In an effort to show how ridiculous this is, I am going to use the logic adopted by these fear mongers to show that even they could be accused of advocating the Common Core standards. First, I must tell you that I don't really believe that these bloggers are advocates of Common Core; these are just heuristic examples.

Donna Garner, when not chasing windmills, is a blogger and activist who contributes to a website ( that sells advertising. One of the advertisers is LearningRx, a national company that helps struggling students.

Here is an advertisement from LearningRx:

Read this information from Terri Clark, the owner of LearningRX:

"The purpose of this transition is the development of a common core of standards across the nation, using the most advanced research to prepare students for success in college and in their chosen careers. This initiative, led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, with input from teachers, parents, school administrators and experts from across the country, will establish a single set of clear educational standards from kindergarten through grade 12.
These standards will promote equity for all students, no matter their location, to collaborate and compete with others in the U.S. and abroad. Collaboration across state lines allows for ease in the development of teaching materials, assessments and teacher-support tools. While the Common Core Standards establish what needs to be learned, individual states, districts, schools and teachers will determine best practices. These best practices will not be tested until the school year 2014-2015, when the Common Core Assessment will be completed..." Click here to read more.

If you abandon common sense you might conclude that Donna Garner supports Common Core because she writes for a website that advertises for proponents of Common Core. They are, after all, paying them for space on the blog.

The same can be said for Meryl Hope and Breitbart News, a blogger who uses a "news" template to report circular logic. She also sales advertising space on her site. Two universities advertise on her site, Walden University and Liberty University.

Walden University literally offers courses on how to implement Common Core:

Here is post from the Liberty University website:

An excerpt from this post: 

Again, when I abandon all reason, I can only conclude that Meryl Hope as Breitbart News is supporting Common Core implementation by monetizing a website.

I give you these examples as a warning: Beware! Common Core could happen to you! Teachers are being vilified for using educational resources that have things like Common Core Aligned stamped at the bottom. Let's assume the best intentions and all come together to tell the truth about education. Let's all use common sense, even when it is a very uncommon thing.

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