Saturday, October 5, 2013

SHHH! Don't Tell Anyone, But Lora Hubbel Let A Non-Conservative Attend Her Common Core Concerns Event

This morning, my long-suffering wife had errands in Sioux Falls and Brandon, so I donned my dressiest chambray shirt and blue jeans and had her drop me off at the Lora Hubbel organized Common Core Concerns event. To blend in, I put my laptop and some quizzes that I wanted to correct in my Liberty Manics NSA field bag. (I really need to work on live blogging.)

I arrived fashionably late, but in time hear Dr. Sandra Stotsky, one of five people on the Common Core's Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the standards. Stotsky hit on many of the concerns that I've expressed about the Core in other posts. She won me over by telling the 100+ in attendance that the Core will reduce the teaching of fiction. She also correctly asserted literary texts are necessary for writing and critical thinking skills.

In addition, Stotsky also pointed out that the claims about the Core being international benchmarked and research based are specious. The standards have not been field tested. More importantly, she asserted rather convincingly that the math standards and English standards are not necessarily more rigorous than those that preceded them because the Core standards are divorced from content. She pointed out that the standards ask high school students to discern theme, but one can discern theme in both The Cat in the Hat or Moby Dick.  Finally, she pointed out that the standards were not developed by math or English teachers or college professors who teach those subjects. They were developed by testing experts and textbook publishers. In the main, Stotsky's presentation echoed concerns raised by Diane Ravitch and other educators who have concerns about the Core.

If Stotsky presented a prima facia case that the Common Core will likely do more harm than good, Jenni White, President of Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) confirmed some of my worst fears about the conservative Core opponents. While White did not invoke the UN, she went through various ways that the Core is part of a federal government effort to data mine and data bank family and student information. I started correcting mythology quizzes during her speech, but had to give up when she violated Godwin's Law and invoked Hitler as an early fan of data collection. She also told the crowd that opposing the Core is her Christian duty. I'm all for folks doing their Christian duty, but opposing these standards seems to fall under a civic obligation. I'm not sure if it was White's high energy approach, her Hitler comparison, or her call to Christian civil disobedience, but the crowd responded to White more enthusiastically than they did Stotsky.

During the breakout sessions, Representatives Bolin, Stalzer, and May discussed a bit of legislative history and the need to revisit the Core during the upcoming session. Some in the audience seemed eager to begin an initiated measure. Several other legislators, including Manny Steele, spoke from the audience.

To sum up, I'll give a few random observations. First,attending the event reminded me of being a visitor at a small town church. Many seem to have been together for other political and cultural battles. They had a certain comfort with each other and felt confident that everyone there would share not only the goals but also the underlying reasons for those goals. As one who is politically displaced, that atmosphere felt a bit cloying.

Second, I regret missing the opportunity to meet Steve Sibson whom Lora asked to help with one of the other breakout sessions. I should have been more social, but the farm boy that's still in me just doesn't do the social well.

Finally, however correct and well-intentioned those attending audience may be or not be, the effort to have the South Dakota Department of Education reverse the Core's adoption is a long shot at best.


caheidelberger said...

Interesting read of the crowd! If these folks were organized, they'd realize an initiative is unlikely, as they only have a month left to file paperwork and gather 15,855 petition signatures. I don't even think they'll get a referendum opportunity: with Common Core already in the pipeline, it seems unlikely there would be any legislation passed in the 2014 session that they could refer and repeal to significantly impact the implementation. It looks like getting behind Rep. Bolin to push a repeal in the Legislature is their best option. They'd better buy some snow tires and reserve some rooms in Pierre!

M Larson said...

I wonder what the option is right now. We basically have the common core or going back to No Child Left Behind. Bolin worries me because he has decided to take the hyperbolic route and make a lot of statements that just are not true. Great reporting. It sounded like an interesting event.

Kal Lis said...

To address the points about political action. Cory is correct that it will take a lot of folks with a lot of money for gas, rooms, and snow tires to get anything changed.

I think most folks know that the initiated measure would have to come after this session and is a one time shot. If it fails, no one is going to be able to challenge education proposals at the ballot box for a long time.

I'll stick by what I've said before. The textbook and testing folk will want new standards soon so they can sell new textbooks. "New and Improved" to meet Common Core will not sell as well as "Aligned to New Marrow and Meat Standards."

Finally, HB 1234 went down to defeat at the ballot box but the SDDOE rules have half or more of the measure codified. The same thing will happen if the Core goes away. The Core standards will be put in place under anew name and none of the biggest supporters will be able to tell anyone how or why these standards are more rigorous than the standards they replaced.

If I didn't beleive these things weren't going to be used to decimate debate programs and eliminate teaching lit in high school, I probably wouldn't post on it. Local control and the other issues have been moot points since NCLB