ROPE Commentary on the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) Rebuttal to “Common Core State Standards: Are They
Right for Oklahoma?”, submitted to Representative Sally Kern.
The Original ROPE Report Submitted to the Oklahoma House of Representatives as part of Interim Study #11-048, October 6, 2011 by Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) can be located on the web with embedded live links here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/67808823/Presentation -for-Interim-Committee
After reviewing the OSDE’s rebuttal to ROPE’s research on the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), we wish to make the following statements: 1. The rebuttal submitted to Representative Kern by the OSDE was not derived from the ROPE paper (referenced above) made available to all House Common Education Committee members, as well as Dr. Barresi and other OSDE members on October 6, which included eight pages of citations to corroborate our statements. a. The rebuttal was made based on the Power Point presentation given by ROPE President, Jenni White to the Committee which included no actual citations, only specific information pulled from the citations. b. As such, many of the rebuttal statements included from the OSDE were answered in or otherwise addressed by/through the original paper. c. ROPE points to the original paper for any further discussion or comparison with the OSDE rebuttal document. If this is a less than optimal solution, or does not answer specific questions, we are happy to answer any questions via email (jenni@RestoreOkPublicEducation.com) at the convenience of the reader. 2. As with their presentation to the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee for the CCSSI interim study (which included no written statements or corroborating documents from the Superintendent or her invited speaker, Senator Rich Crandall), ROPE was frankly surprised at the lack of supporting documentation in the OSDE rebuttal comments as well (with the exception of those pointed to the Achieve or Common Core websites). a. Shouldn’t tax payers have a right to hope that a governmental organization operated solely on state funding (that will be requiring public school students to generate a certain amount of research as part of “college ready standards” (http://commoncore.org/)) be more skilled and/or professional in this area? b. Has the OSDE actually examined the CCSSI from outside the common core bubble at all? The answer obvious from their rebuttal is more than troubling. i. Of course the Common Core and Achieve websites would have glowing and positive information about the CCSSI. It would be extremely difficult to find any organization or effort that would produce negative documentation or commentary about their own activities as this would in many ways defeat the purpose of ‘selling’ that particular organization or effort. 1 | Common Core State Standards: Are They Right For Oklahoma? ROPE Commentary on the OSDE Rebuttal. www.RestoreOkPublicEducation.com
c. An excellent recent article in EdWeek could provide some direction here. It is titled, “Several Ways To Tell The Difference Between Good and Bad Education Research” (http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2011/11/se veral_tell_the_difference_between_good_and_bad_education_research.html?cmp=EN L-EU-VIEWS2) i. An example from the article might be informative: “When you confront claims about education, and the inevitable counter-claims, what should you be looking for? • Are claims supported with evidence -- citations, hyperlinks, or both?” 3. After reviewing the OSDE rebuttal to the ROPE presentation, it is quite clear that our lack of consensus regarding the CCSSI stems in large part from ideology, with ROPE diametrically opposed to the position of the OSDE on this issue. a. For example; we do not believe Oklahomans should send Oklahoma tax dollars to a Federal Department of Education for which there is no Constitutional basis and which relegates the role of parent and taxpayer to a position behind that of our state representatives and school board members (our current Superintendent said as much from a number of stumps during her campaign). i. To this point, we offer a few words from our Founders: 1. "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." --James Madison, Federalist No. 45 2. "The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an influence and ascendancy over the National Government, and will forever preclude the possibility of federal encroachments. That their liberties, indeed, can be subverted by the federal head, is repugnant to every rule of political calculation." – Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788 3. And finally "[T]he States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign ones. I wish, therefore ... never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at market." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, 1823 b. We are not alone in our ideology; other national conservative organizations such as the CATO Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The Goldwater Institute and the Friedman Foundation agree with our distaste of the CCSSI from a liberty/small government perspective. 4. Furthermore: a. As we held in our presentation of October 6, the ACT programs EXPLORE and PLAN - for which we currently expend taxpayer funds - can perform the function of assuring educational parity of Oklahoma students with other states without joining 2 | Common Core State Standards: Are They Right For Oklahoma? ROPE Commentary on the OSDE Rebuttal. www.RestoreOkPublicEducation.com
a national program that will reduce the footprint of Oklahoma parents, legislators and taxpayers on their own students, legislation and tax dollars. b. All Republican Presidential candidates have maintained they would dissolve the Department of Education. Subscribing to a federally mandated national standards initiative on education (and the OSDE continually parroting the Common Core/Achieve line that it isn’t, does not a truism make) could be uncomfortable to say the least if a Republican is elected president in 2012. c. Our country is untold trillions of dollars in debt. From where is the money to be generated that will allow the CCSSI when America (and by extension, Oklahoma) can finally no longer sustain our level of indebtedness? d. A lack of ‘common standards’ is not preventing students from learning and producing the horrifyingly poor educational results of today across Oklahoma and the nation – current teaching methodologies and curricula are. Until students are meant to assimilate and regurgitate math facts, spelling and language rules and basic scientific principles BEFORE continuing on in their education to ‘college ready’ standards, American public school students are doomed to failure via whatever spaghetti-hits-the-wall strategy the educational industrial complex sells next. i. In this vein, instead of looking at data/commentary generated by the education industry, it might help to look to teacher and/or student blogs or commentary for some form of alternate reality. Here is one from a blog called Kitchen Table Math, The Sequel: Another reason to distrust the spiral (http://kitchentablemath.blogspot.com/2011/11/another-reason-to-distrust-spiral.html) “We've discussed often how Everyday Math doesn't build to mastery, but spirals through the same topics year after year at a shallow level so students never get enough practice. Teachers and parents are told to "trust the spiral"--if the student doesn't learn the concept this time, they'll learn it next time. But no one tells the students that. I hear stories now of children in tears of frustration in first and second grade because they are being asked to "learn" concepts without enough background. These children aren't able to blithely say "oh well". They are crushed at their obvious failure. They feel stupid. They feel miserable. They are learning to hate math and their inability to do it. The assignments aren't meant to be mastered yet, according to the adults. But the spiral won't stop their students' feelings of awfulness. We can't teach children that math is coherent, reasonable, and learnable with effort this way. Students need to be given concepts of slowly-increasing difficulty, designed so hard work leads to success. It's not just we've robbed them by giving too little chance to build up to complexity. Giving "tastes" of concepts they aren't ready for undermines the "effort is good" message and reinforces you're math-smart or math-dumb, and there's nothing you can do about it.” 3 | Common Core State Standards: Are They Right For Oklahoma? ROPE Commentary on the OSDE Rebuttal. www.RestoreOkPublicEducation.com