Pearl Harbor and Common Core Aligned Textbook

Filed in Blog , Common Core/IBC/Education Headlines , Federal/State/Local/District 6 Headlines after 8/24/13 5 comments
December 09, 2013
Inside this issue


Published on Dec 5, 2013 – An investigative documentary into the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Featuring Nationally renowned experts in education including, E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Sandra Stotsky, Jim Milgram, and many more.

Releasing Online Free: February 2014
In Festivals, DVD, and Theaters: Spring 2014

  Remember Pearl Harbor! But Not in Common Core Textbooks.  

By Bill Korach

On this day Seventy two years ago, my late father-in-law, Captain Walter J. Stencil, United States Navy was Officer of the Deck on the USS Tennessee at Pearl Harbor when America was “suddenly and deliberately attacked by the Empire of Japan.” Captain Stencil would go on to fight in 11 major Pacific battles including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Saipan and Leyte Gulf. Japan outnumbered the US. Navy in the Pacific, and her army outnumbered the US Army 10 to 1 following the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

But in a new Common Core approved textbook, our students read an entirely different story. The American Experience, Prentice Hall, is a textbook that will forever live in infamy, to paraphrase President Franklin Roosevelt’s immortal declaration of war on Japan. Or put another way, The American Experience is a new low in educational standards.

Terrence Moore provides some perspective on this historical outrage in Townhall:


The opening page of the slim chapter devoted to World War II called “War Shock” features a photograph of a woman inspecting a large stockpile of thousand-pound bomb castings. The notes in the margins of the Teacher’s Edition set the tone:

In this section, nonfiction prose and a single stark poem etch into a reader’s mind the dehumanizing horror of world war. . . .

The editors of the textbook script the question teachers are supposed to ask students in light of the photograph as well as provide the answer:

Ask: What dominant impression do you take away from this photograph?

Possible response: Students may say that the piled rows of giant munitions give a strong impression of America’s power of mass production and the bombs’ potential for mass destruction.

Translation: Americans made lots of big bombs that killed lots of people.

The principal selection of the chapter is taken from John Hersey’s Hiroshima. It is a description of ordinary men and women in Hiroshima living out their lives the day the bomb was dropped. A couple of lines reveal the spirit of the document:

The Reverend Mr. Tanimoto got up at five o’clock that morning. He was alone in the parsonage, because for some time his wife had been commuting with their year-old baby to spend nights with a friend in Ushida, a suburb to the north.

The editors of the textbook script the question teachers are supposed to ask students in light of the photograph as well as provide the answer:

The principal selection of the chapter is taken from John Hersey’s Hiroshima. It is a description of ordinary men and women in Hiroshima living out their lives the day the bomb was dropped. A couple of lines reveal the spirit of the document:

Further prompts from the margins of the Teacher’s Edition indicate how the selection is to be read and taught:

World War II has been called a popular war in which the issues that spurred the conflict were clearly defined. . . . Nevertheless, technological advances . . . [and the media] brought home the horrors of war in a new way. Although a serious antiwar movement in the United States did not become a reality until the 1960s, these works by Hersey and by Jarrell take their place in the ranks of early antiwar literature.

Have students think about and record in writing their personal feelings about war. Encourage students to list images of war that they recall vividly. [Conveniently, there is a photograph of the devastation in Hiroshima next to this prompt].

Tell students they will revisit their feelings about war after they have read these selections.

The entire section is littered with questions and prompts in this vein and plenty of photos that show the destruction of Hiroshima. In case the students would be inclined to take the American side in this conflict, the editors see to it that teachers will remind the students repeatedly that there are two sides in every war:

  Is this Common Core math question the worst math question in human history?  

Posted By Eric Owens On 10:00 AM 12/07/2013 In |

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has promised to improve education quality vastly by pushing for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

This year, 45 states and the District of Columbia have implemented the Common Core standards and curricula based on those standards.

Duncan doesn’t much care for the people who criticize Common Core, either. He has insisted that it’s all a bunch of “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.” (RELATED: Arne Duncan blames irrational angst of ‘white suburban moms’ for Common Core pushback)

What, exactly, is the content of this Common Core that’s going to make American kids so much smarter? So far it appears to be a slew of worksheets and tests involving various, incomprehensible arrays of squares and circles. (RELATED: EPIC FAIL: Parents reveal insane Common Core worksheets)

There are also traditional word problems. Twitchy has found a word problem that may be the most egregiously awful math problem the Common Core has produced yet. Take a look:

@michellemalkin a great common core question a friend,who is a teacher, posted. Cc @TwitchyTeam

— Kevin (@kevinpost) December 6, 2013


According to the Twitter user who posted it, the vexing problem came from a friend who is a teacher.

The problem comes from a Houghton Mifflin Assessment Guide. It appears among a larger set of basically similar math problems here. The problem involving Juanita appears on page AG102, nestled among some other problems that are similarly weak and crappy — though not nearly as harrrowing as the problem above.

Houghton Mifflin is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a huge textbook publisher. The company’s website promises to be “a partner who will share the responsibilities” of the Common Core: “We have created a wide range of content, curricula, and services to support school leaders, teachers and educators, parents, and especially students with this transition.”

Twitchy readers tried to tease out the answer to the Juanita problem — how can you not? – and determined that the answer is either 12, 24, 0 or 7.

  Is ASCD Embracing Market-Driven Education Reform?  
PLEASE NOTE: The Gates Foundation has struck again by giving $3 million to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. They are not missing a trick to push Common Core.

By Anthony Cody on December 5, 2013 5:37 PM


Another day, another headline on ASCD’s Smartbrief extolling some new Common Core strategy. ASCD has signed on as an endorser of Common Core, and in 2011, the Gates Foundation awarded ASCD a grant of $3 millionto provide teachers and school leaders with supports to implement the Common Core State Standards at the district, school, and classroom levels.” In July of this year, ASCD won an additional $244,000, “to support implementation of the Common Core State Standards.”

I have generally positive feelings towards ASCD. I recall in 2010, when ASCD’s Gene Carter wrote a public letter in response to Oprah’s show on Waiting for Superman. He wrote:

As a career educator and the executive director of ASCD, an education association of 160,000 educators worldwide, I was dismayed that your show on education reform excluded a key demographic from the dialogue: teachers. Yet the research—and your high-profile guests—say a child’s teacher is the most important factor to determining his or her success.

Moreover, simplistically dividing a profession of 5 million people into “good teachers” and “bad teachers” misses an important opportunity to show how all educators must continue to learn, develop, and grow throughout their careers.

In the more distant past, Educational Leadership, ASCD’s journal, carried articles like this one, detailing the problems with the high stakes testing paradigm. And Educational Leadership continues to feature strong explorations of issues like teacher evaluation and professional development, including this article I contributed recently on the subject of teacher leadership.

Their coverage of the controversies regarding Common Core have been a bit less balanced. Their “Common Core State Standards Myths and Facts” perpetuates the idea that state adoption of the standards was “voluntary” when we all know adoption has been the result of a combination of RttT carrots and NCLB waiver sticks. The article presents a host of other glowing promises about Common Core that neither ASCD nor anyone else can deliver upon.

Educational Leadership has treated the controversy over Common Core literacy instruction in a one-sided fashion, by presenting this article by Timothy Shanahan, derisively titled The Common Core Ate My Baby and Other Urban Legends. There are respected literacy experts who would disagree with his stance, but their views were not shared, except to be dismissed by him as nonsense. The journal has also published articles expressing skepticism such as this one by Tom Loveless, The Common Core Initiative: What are the Chances of Success. But the thrust of the journal and work of ASCD has become dominated by the push to implement Common Core.

  More states delay Common Core testing as concerns grow  

common core1Massachusetts and Louisiana, both seen as important in the world of school reform, have decided to delay the implementation of high-stakes standardized tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards in the face of growing concern about the initiative. The two states follow nearly 10 others — including Florida, the pioneer of corporate-influenced school reform — to slow or rethink Core implementation, actions coming amid a growing movement led by educators and parents who have become skeptical of the standards and the new related standardized tests.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been defending the Core — a set of common standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia designed to raise student achievement —for months before various audiences, most recent recently getting himself in trouble with remarks about “white suburban moms” becoming Core critics because the new, harder exams have shown suddenly that “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were.” (He apologized, blaming “clumsy phrasing.”)

But the opposition has grown, from the left, the right and the middle, expressing different concerns about the Core and its implementation. Though Duncan has said repeatedly that the Core is a state-led, voluntary initiative, the Obama administration has supported the standards, and critics on the right charge that the federal government has used it to develop a national curriculum. Critics on the left and the middle have argued that the Core standards are not based on substantive research, that they ignore what is known about early childhood development and/or that reformers have rushed implementation before teachers have had time to absorb them and create materials to teach them. One prominent Core supporter, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, recently blasted the implementation, saying:

You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse.

The moves by Louisiana and Massachusetts matter because both states have big profiles in the school reform world.

Louisiana, whose governor, Bobby Jindal, has been a leader in standardized-test based school reform, announced late last week that it would delay the way students, teachers and schools are held accountable under the standards, the Times-Picayune reported. The high stakes for students that were supposed to be linked to the test scores of new tests designed to assess student progress under Core standards will not take effect in 2015 as previously planned, meaning that younger students won’t be held back based solely on a score and high school students won’t take the tests in 2015. Furthermore, until at least 2016, students in third and fourth graders will no longer be required to take Core-aligned tests on a computer.

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A Progressive and a Conservative Find Common Ground Opposing the Common Core
In recent months I have written about the growing opposition to the Common Core, from across the political spectrum. I recently connected with two citizens who embody this, and asked them to share their very divergent backgrounds, and the describe how they have found agreement in regards to the Common Core.

I am Paul Horton. I am a life long Democrat who attended public schools and a public university, Texas at Austin. I come from an Alabama populist family descended from Quakers originally from the area around Nottingham. I am related to Judge James E. Horton (Scottsboro Boys) and Myles Horton (Highlander Folk School). My grandfather, a rural superintendent of schools, had a cross burned on his lawn for firing the county’s high school principal, the leader of the Klan in the county.

I am a Progressive Educator who has read all of his John Dewey and who has sought to live up to the idea of creating “a Laboratory for Democracy” in my classroom. I am a strong proponent of inquiry-based learning that requires students to read entire books, challenging articles, and produce analytical essays and research papers.

Although learning facts is a part of the process of teaching students to become historians, citizens who question authority, and adults who can work together to solve difficult problems; like Dewey, I believe that Education must be a part of building a larger vision of who we are and what we should become.

Blue States Turning on Controversial ‘Common Core’ School Standards

As controversy intensifies over new the Common Core educational standards, two Democrat-led states are showing signs of distancing themselves from the curriculum that the Obama administration has supported.

North Country Public Radio reported last week that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has appeared to remove himself from the controversial Common Core.

“In recent days, Cuomo seems to have cooled from his initial endorsement of the rapid transition to the adoption of the national education standards,” wrote Karen DeWitt.

Asked by a reporter about the Common Core standards, Cuomo removed himself from the discontent that has generated boisterous meetings with state education officials, parents, and teachers.

In Staten Island, Cuomo referred to the implementation of the new standards as “problematic,” and, in Lake Placid, acknowledged, “It’s been very controversial. It’s very controversial here in the state.”

Cuomo’s comments differed from those of just a month ago, when he focused more on how the change to a new system can be hard.

Nevertheless, Cuomo has hinted that he may engage the state legislature to slow down the Common Core’s implementation.

“The state could pass a law that stops it, starts it, accelerates it, etcetera,” he said.

If the New York State legislature follows through with a slow-down, it will be following in the footsteps of another Democrat-led state–Massachusetts–which, two weeks ago, voted to delay the implementation of Common Core for two years while it compares the tests aligned with the new standards to the state’s existing Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam.

According to Education Week, Massachusetts education commissioner Mitchell Chester, who also chairs the governing board for PARCC, one of the Common Core testing consortia, said that fully adopting the new testing by the deadline of the 2014-2015 school year was “too precipitous” for his state’s schools.

As the Heritage Foundation notes, while achievement gains in Massachusetts have leveled off in recent years, the state has led the nation in its math and reading proficiency, with fourth and eighth-grade students exceeding the national average by nearly 10 percentage points in both subject areas.

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