Category Archives: Class Size

Is the Common Core a Runaway Train? Is it Unstoppable? Let’s Ask Stephen Krashen

The Common Core train has left the station.  Is it a runaway train?  Is it unstoppable?  

Americans, get ready.  Common Core State Standards have already left the station, according to Stephen Krashen, who was featured in  NABE Weekly eNews, (2012), and the National Association for Bilingual Education,  see S. Krashen, “Poverty is the problem that must be solved: Our schools are not broken” NABE NEWS, 33 (4): 5-8. July/August 2011. 

But who is this Stephen Krashen?  Why should we ask him?  Why not ask Bill Gates?  Or Pearson?  Or David Coleman?

You can read about Krashen here on his website.  He’s an expert in education, unlike Gates, Pearson, or Coleman.  The problem is, Krashen isn’t driving the train.

Gates, Pearson, and Coleman are driving the train, and that’s like having no one at the wheel.  No one that knows what they are doing.  

Is the train unstoppable?  

Are schools really so broken across  America that 45 states have to adopt these untested standards?

What do we do when every American child is put on board a train without a driver?  Do we let that runaway train go until it crashes with all of them on board?  

These are serious questions that someone needs to answer.

Let’s  get a feel for what might be at risk, then pay attention closely as we ask Stephen Krashen, an education expert.

Krashen wrote:  

“It is not too late.  We are frequently told that “the train has already left the station.” It has not, however, arrived at its destination.”

He and NABE have given their permission to print Krashen’s work here.  My photos and comments are added.

Stephen Krashen:

Do Those Who Like the Common Core Know the Facts?   

Posted on NABE Weekly eNews  (National Association for Bilingual Education)

  “According to an Achieve poll, 68% of teachers and 74% of all voters approve of the common core state (sic) standards (either “very favorable” or “favorable”)

[http://www.achieve.org/GrowingAwarenessCCSS].  A poll of Education Next readers showed less enthusiasm, but 40% supported the common core at the time of this writing (either “completely” or “somewhat” supportive) [ http://educationnext.org/ednext-readers-poll-common-core/ ].” ~ Stephen Krashen, NABE Weekly eNews, (2012)

My update, as taken directly from Education Next Poll on Common Core below, includes  the week’s previous poll results, giving US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a strong  “F”  in job performance.  Here are the results for both polls from their site:   

“Last week we asked:

“What grade would you give Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s job performance?”

The results were as follows:

A – 3%
B – 3%
C – 6%
D – 16 %
F – 72%

This week we want to know your thoughts on the following question:

As you may know, all states are currently deciding whether or not to adopt the Common Core standards in reading and math.  If adopted, these standards would be used to hold the state’s schools accountable for their performance.  Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state?

Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state? (Poll Closed)

Completely support 17.29%  

Somewhat support 12.62%  

Neither support nor oppose 3.97%  

Somewhat oppose 12.38%  

Completely oppose 53.74%  ”  ~  Education Next Reader’s Poll: Common Core(2012)

Yes, you read that right!  53.74% completely oppose the Common Core State Standards!  Interesting, since implementation of Common Core State Standards is getting started already in 45 states across America!

Stephen Krashen took the time to comment on the Education Next poll.  He said:

 Stephen Krashen says:

07/08/2012 at 12:57 am

“I wonder how the poll results would turn out if all those taking the poll realized that the common core state (sic) standards entails a massive increase in testing (about 20 times NCLB levels) and will be very expensive, at a time when money is very tight. I wonder how the results would be if respondees realized that there is no justification for the common core in the first place: the problem is poverty.” ~ Stephen Krashen, commentsEducation Next Poll: Common Core (2012)

Yes, I wonder how America will feel about the BILLIONS being spent, according to the Pioneer Institute on implementation of the Common Core State Standards?   What if we invested those billions in wrap-around services to directly counter the impacts of poverty instead?

Krashen warns us of a MASSIVE increase in testing, 20 times the testing that NCLB requires as he continues in NABE Weekly eNews:

“I wonder how the poll results would turn out if those taking the poll realized that the common core state (sic) standards mean a massive increase in testing and will be very expensive, at a time when money is very tight. My estimate is that the common core will require about 20 times the amount of testing that NCLB requires, with more subjects and grade levels tested, interim tests, and maybe even pretests in the fall.”  ~ Stephen Krashen, NABE Weekly eNews, (2012)

Just what does all this testing do for children’s learning?  Remember, “testing is not teaching”.  How much time will teachers be spending on teaching with Common Core?  How much excessive testing time goes on before the implementation?  Sounds like a train wreck right around the corner to me.

Are we nuts?  Who is driving this train?   What could communities spend that $16 billion on instead of implementation and testing costs?

Are we assuming that by 20 x MORE testing, we are going to achieve better results?  Who says?  How do we know?

What else does Stephen say this evidence in NABE?  What does he say about the REASON we need Common Core.  Is there a justifiable reason?  What are the real factors devastating some student achievement?  What would  the people of America think if they knew the answers?

 

“I wonder how the results would be if those polled realized that there is no evidence that increased testing will boost achievement, and that there is no justification for the common core in the first place: There is strong evidence that the major reason for low school achievement is poverty.  According to UNICEF (Innocenti Report 10), the US child poverty rate is now 23%, the second highest among 35 “economically advanced” countries.  Poverty has a devastating impact on school performance.”  ~ Stephen KrashenNABE Weekly eNews, (2012)

Obama wants America to “race to the top”.  There’s a “Race to the Top” medal for America.  We have achieved, alright.  We’ve achieved the second highest poverty rating among 35 “economically advanced” countries.  

We get second place and after we spend these billions on implementing Common Core State Standards instead of dealing with the problem of poverty in the first place, maybe we’ll win next year!  First prize!   Maybe it is better for us to start becoming un-advanced economically?

I suppose we should trust Pearson, Gates, and David Coleman and just implement the Common Core without any field testing, huh?  Does America know these standards have not had any field testing?  Will 20 x the testing help children in poverty achieve?

Oh, wait.  There’s more from Krashen.  

 “I wonder how those polled would respond if they knew that the billions to be spent on unnecessary and excessive testing could be used to protect children against the effects of poverty.” ~ Stephen KrashenNABE Weekly eNews, (2012)

 But is it too late?  Is the train of Common Core unstoppable?

He wonders too, what the pollers would have said if they KNEW these billions were being spent on UNNECCESSARY excessive testing.  Is it unnecessary?    Do you know, American parents?  Start asking questions.  Stop the train.

Do these standards really make a difference when in the end, we all group up with different passions, talents, and interests that lead us to different vocations, professions, and lifestyles?  Why try to standardize everyone?  Does it make sense, really?  What if we embraced everyone’s diversity instead?

When was the last time you heard of ANYONE solving any of the world’s REAL problems by taking one of these bubble tests?  

  • Has anyone attributed these bubble tests to saving a life?  
  • Inventing something important for society?  
  • Adding to their success?  
  • Creating happiness?  
  • Establishing credibility in their future?  
  • What happened after you got your diploma?  
  • Did you EVER refer back to those bubble tests in your resume?

But more importantly:  What would happen if we spent these billions on stemming the bleeding on poverty instead?  What kinds of things might REALLY help?  

 

Krashen has more questions too, and points out — when it comes to Common Core, it may not be too late.  Could we stop the train?  Is it unstoppable? 

 “It is not too late.  We are frequently told that “the train has already left the station.” It has not, however, arrived at its destination.

 If the public knew the details about the Common Core, the astonishing amount of testing, the cost, and the lack of evidence that it will work, the train would stop immediately.”

Note: NABE passed a strong resolution opposing the common core standards and tests at the 2012 annual meeting.

For sources, see S. Krashen, “Poverty is the problem that must be solved: Our schools are not broken” NABE NEWS, 33 (4): 5-8. July/August 2011.

 

Krashen inspires us, encourages us, and directs us to stop this train.  

We don’t need Common Core Standards.  

Our schools are not broken.  

We don’t need 20 x the high stakes testing.  

Our schools are not broken.  

We don’t need Value Added Measures [VAM].  

Our schools are not broken.  

We don’t need charter schools to make the rich guys richer.  

Our schools are not broken. 

It’s not too late.  

Stop Common Core.

Stop the poverty train. 

Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction.

I agree with Stephen Krashen.  

Schools are not broken.  

Society is broken.  

Common Core State Standards won’t help poverty.   In fact, it’s $16 billion price tag will likely make it a whole lot worse.  

America, we need to put people like Stephen Krashen behind the wheel.  

Don’t be deceived by their propaganda:  Take the wheel away from the corporations.    Why would we trust them with anything?  $16 Billion?  Our children?  Our schools?  Our teachers?   Why?

Let’s stop this train — the poverty train — before it’s too late.  

Why?

Because these children —- these children in poverty —- these children in our public schools  — they’re real human beings —-  they aren’t numbers.


Happy Mother’s Day Melinda Gates, Mommie Dearest

Joan Crawford: Did you scrub the bathroom floor today? DID YOU?
Christina Crawford: Yes, Mommie.
Joan Crawford: Yes, Mommie what?
Christina Crawford: Yes, Mommie Dearest.
Joan Crawford: When I told you to call me that, I wanted you to mean it. ~  IMDb Mommie Dearest 

In honor of Mother’s Day, please join me in wishing Melinda Gates, Mommie Dearest a Happy Mother’s Day.


Melinda’s Family: Husband: Bill Gates, married 18 years; Kids: Jennifer, 16, Rory, 13, Phoebe, 10

(photo: Parent DishAmazing Mom, Melinda Gates, May 9th, 2010.)

Mommie Dearest, you SAY that “All lives have equal value.”  

We’re a bit confused because we’re not seeing your actions match your words…

We don’t understand why you’re not advocating and using your  influence to make sure our children get the same opportunities yours do…

Lakeside School – Seattle, WA

“The lawn is meticulously manicured, as if the groundskeeper’s tools include a cuticle scissors. Classic brick buildings, a bell tolling the hour and concrete lion statues almost convince me that I’m at an East Coast college. But this is Lakeside School in Northeast Seattle.” ~ Linda Thomas,  Private vs Public Education

Melinda and Bill send their children to Lakeside Prep School, Bill’s alma mater.  Lakeside sounds like the perfect place to send ALL children, as it is touted as one of the “Best Schools in Seattle“.

Lakeside School

  • “In addition to being well known as Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ alma mater, Lakeside School is also known in the area for its rigorous academic standards, resulting in 100 percent of it graduates in 2005 going onto a four-year college, as well as a consistent 40 to 50 percent of its seniors being recognized as National Merit Scholars. The required curriculum includes four years of English, three years of history, math and a foreign language, two and a half years of science, and two years of art and physical education. In addition to the required curriculum, students must also complete 80 hours of community service. Students are free to choose from a range of selective academic courses and with average class sizes limited to 16, students get plenty of individual attention.”

    Lakeside School
    14050 First Avenue N.E.
    Seattle, WA 98125
    206-368-3600
    lakesideschool.org

Read more: The Best Schools in the Seattle, Washington Area | eHow.comhttp://www.ehow.com/list_6157180_schools-seattle_-washington-area.html#ixzz1ulqxWMQ6

Let’s hear from Lakeside Prep School itself, about what it offers to the Gates children:

“Lakeside’s mission is to develop in intellectually capable young people the creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits that will contribute wisdom, compassion, and leadership to our global society. This informs everything we do and we nurture in our students a love of learning, a caring for others, and an understanding of the importance of living a life of integrity.

 

Our students are scholars; athletes; artists; musicians; community service volunteers; fundraisers; and much, much more. They are curious, active and engaged. They have an appreciation for excellence in whatever they do and a commitment to take part in their own learning. Ninety percent of them play at least one season of a varsity sport and just as many participate in our arts programs long after fulfilling their arts requirement!

 

The faculty and staff at Lakeside are dynamic and talented educators who are passionate about their work. When I meet with Lakeside students throughout the year, I always ask what they think the best part of a Lakeside School education is and they always reply, “My teachers, my coaches, and my friends.”

 

Working in small, collaborative classes, our teachers help students learn how to think, write, and speak thoughtfully about topics that range from organic chemistry to African literature in the Diaspora. We believe that academic excellence and diversity go hand in hand in the 21st century. Students here find peers from every background and every walk of life in every classroom. We recognize and celebrate the unique talents that each brings and we want the widest possible range of perspectives represented in every discussion.

 

I encourage you to learn more about this wonderful place. And, if you’re not already, I hope one day to see you as a part of the Lakeside School community!”

What about the academics at Lakeside?

“Lakeside’s 5th- to 12th-grade student-centered academic program focuses on the relationships between talented students and capable and caring teachers. We develop and nurture students’ passions and abilities and ensure every student feels known. 

The cultural and economic diversity of our community, the teaching styles, and the approaches to learning are all essential to Lakeside academics. We believe that in today’s global world, our students need to know more than one culture, one history, and one language. 

Each student’s curiosities and capabilities lead them to unique academic challenges that are sustained through a culture of support and encouragement. All students will find opportunities to discover and develop a passion; to hone the skills of writing, thinking, and speaking; and to interact with the world both on and off campus. Lakeside trusts that each student has effective ideas about how to maximize his or her own education, and that they will positively contribute to our vibrant learning community.”  ~ Lakeside School Academic Overview

What mother wouldn’t love to offer her children the educational experience provided by Lakeside Prep?

So, I have some special Mother’s Day questions for Melinda, dearest.

Melinda’s opened herself up to this conversation by heading the very public foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that meddles in our children’s lives.

Melinda, dearest invites us into this conversation by exerting her monetary influence over PBS News Hour’s program “Ask Melinda Gates Your Question About Education Reform“.

PBS News Hour introduced Melinda and admits their Gates Foundation funds their programming.  Could that be why they didn’t post my questions to Melinda through the screening moderator, I wonder?

“Since 1994, the foundation has spent over $6 billion in the United States, looking at data-proven ways to improve student achievement and often jumping into controversial policy debates such as smaller schools in New York City, charter schools, high-stakes testing and teacher evaluation systems around the country.

While the amount of money spent on education that comes from private foundations is small compared to what comes from local taxes, state and federal governments, the foundation’s research and advocacy has become integral to the passionate debates about the future of the American education system.

Next week, Melinda Gates will sit down with PBS NewsHour Correspondent Hari Sreenivasan to talk about the Gates Foundation’s work in the field of education and we’d like to hear your suggestions.

Do you have a question for Melinda Gates about the projects they’ve funded, lessons learned, their priorities and where they plan to focus their funding in the future? Send us your questions in the comments below or tweet them to@newshouramgrad.

For the record, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour and the American Graduate project.”

Since PBS News Hour wouldn’t publish my questions for Melinda, I’ll ask them here:

Melinda – as the richest MOTHER in the world, you wield an enormous amount of power and influence.   Today I have some questions about your commitment to the very public motto of  your Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Gates Foundation motto is:

All Lives Have Equal Value

Melinda, dearest:

If all lives have equal value, then why does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fund Charter Schools that segregate children by race, selecting OUT and CULLING the nation’s children of color?

If all lives have equal value, then why does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation tout itself as working for Civil Rights, but does not discuss the ugly racist roots of the history of the Charter Schools it funds and promotes?

If all lives have equal value, then why does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fund Charter Schools that segregate children by socio-economic class, selecting OUT  and CULLING the children who are the nation’s poorest?

If all lives have equal value, then why does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fund Charter Schools that segregate children by ability, selecting OUT and CULLING the children with special needs?

If all lives have equal value, then why do Bill and Melinda Gates send their children to Lakeside School where their own children do not need to be subjected to the same rigorous high stakes testing that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with their “authoritarian standards” foist on our public school children? (See “print screen” when I searched Lakeside School for “high stakes testing”…)

If all lives have equal value, then why do Bill and Melinda Gates send their children to Lakeside School where their teachers are not subjected to published test rankings that the Gates and  Rupert Murdoch use to humiliate, measure, sort, and CULL public school teachers with through their Shared Learning Collaborative, LLC?

If all lives have equal value, then why do  Bill and Melinda Gates send their children to Lakeside School where they are offered “Global Programs” that send them on trips around the world, while public school children, due to budget cuts, are relegated to schools that more often than not can’t even begin to fund a field trip to the local zoo?

OUR ROLE IN THE WORLD BEYOND OUR DOORS

“Lakeside’s Global Programs introduce our students to the world beyond their doors, fostering cultural awareness and responsible global citizenry. 

Global Service Learning (GSL) is Lakeside’s leading-edge program designed to help students prepare for the challenges of the 21st century. It equips them with the tools they need to meet a more interconnected world, nurturing the values of mutual respect, cross-cultural understanding, equity, and justice. 

The Lakeside Intercultural Program (LIP) has been bringing students to countries across the globe for over 20 years. LIP  often ties travel directly to classroom work and the trips are led by Lakeside teachers. All travel immerses students in life changing experiences that broaden and enhance their vision of the world. 

Students can study abroad during their junior year of high school through School Year Abroad (SYA). If they apply in the winter of their sophomore year, they can spend their junior year in Spain, France, Italy, China, Japan or Vietnam.

Lakeside is currently developing a Peru Semester program in a rural Andean village located in the Sacred Valley near Cusco and Machu Picchu. Students, in their junior year, will engage in academic, cultural, and service learning experiences while living with home stay families. The program includes significant educational field trips which provide students with opportunities to study other parts of Peru. This program is projected to start in Fall 2013.” – Lakeside School Global Programs

If all lives have equal value, then why do  Bill and Melinda Gates send their children to Lakeside School where they don’t need to comply with the almighty mandates of Common Core State Standards that Gates partnered on with Pearson Publishing, promoting them for ALL of America’s public school children?  One link when searched at Lakeside Melinda, really?

If all lives have equal value, then why do  Bill and Melinda Gates send their children to Lakeside School where they are offered extensive programming in ALL of the arts (arts performances 30 +), while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation advocates for a narrowed curriculum for our children, based on their promotion of standardized testing and Common Core curriculum?

If all lives have equal value, then shouldn’t public schools with the highest rates of poverty have equal access to the arts, equal to the programs offered at Lakeside School, Melinda?

In a report on Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, 1999-2000, findings were reported by the National Center for Education Statistics:

“Percentage minority enrollment and poverty concentration. Although the percentages of elementary schools offering instruction in music and visual arts did not vary by minority enrollment or poverty concentration in 1999, elementary schools did vary by percentages of minority enrollment and poverty concentration with respect to several features of their arts education programs. Schools with the lowest minority enrollment (5 percent or less) were more likely than those with the highest minority enrollment (more than 50 percent) to have a dedicated room with special equipment for music instruction (71 percent versus 53 percent) and a district curriculum guide for music (87 percent versus 71 percent). Schools with the lowest poverty concentration (less than 35 percent eligible for free or reduced-price lunch) were more likely than those with the highest poverty concentration (75 percent or more) to have a dedicated room with special equipment for music instruction (70 percent versus 51 percent) and visual arts instruction (65 percent versus 42 percent); a district curriculum guide for music (88 percent versus 73 percent) and visual arts (84 percent versus 70 percent); and input from arts specialists on staff hiring (43 percent versus 21 percent), the curriculum (75 percent versus 50 percent), and the allocation of arts funds (62 percent versus 40 percent).

There was not a great deal of variation at the secondary level by percentage minority enrollment and poverty concentration. Secondary schools with the lowest minority enrollment were more likely than schools with the highest minority enrollment to receive outside funding for their music programs (56 percent versus 33 percent) and to have two or more full-time teachers who taught courses in visual arts (54 percent versus 23 percent). Schools with the lowest poverty concentration were more likely than those with the highest poverty concentration to receive outside funding for their music programs (54 percent versus 23 percent), and to have a dedicated space with special equipment for visual arts. There was no variation by either minority enrollment or poverty concentration with respect to the availability of music and visual arts instruction.

If all lives have equal value, Melinda dearest, then why does the Lakeside School have hydrotherapy spa units for their sports program students, yet public school sports programs face huge budget cuts due to increased costs incurred  to cover implementation of your Common Core State Standards and high stakes testing?

Lakeside School Seattle - Athletics Training Hydrotherapy

If all lives have equal value, then why do  Bill and Melinda Gates, who say that “class size doesn’t matter” , send their own children to Lakeside School where the average public school class size is 16 students?


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Anthony Cody, a veteran retired Oakland master teacher wrote to your dear husband, Bill earlier on the subject of class size:

“And if you are in a high poverty school, the chances are pretty much 100% that in every class you will have students who are currently experiencing traumatic events in their lives. I am talking about domestic and neighborhood violence, homelessness, eviction, parents incarcerated. As this report indicates, as many as a third of students in our tough neighborhoods suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. These problems all seep into the classroom, sometimes overtly, and sometimes through acting out behaviors. And larger class sizes make these behaviors even more difficult to handle.

This is not just my opinion. There is a large body of research that supports a strong link between class size and student achievement. And I would be very surprised if the private schools your children attend have large class sizes. On average, private schools attended by the children of the wealthy have class sizes roughly half those in neighboring public schools.”  ~  Anthony Cody, via Valerie Strauss, “Why Bill Gates Gets it Wrong on Class Size” (2011)

If all lives have equal value, then why is it that your three children deserve an education valued at $26,200 in tuition each per year, while public school children “deserve” only an average yearly allotment of $10, 591 per student.

Which half of my child deserves an education, Melinda Mommie dearest?

It’s very clear to us what are the standards you have for your children and their education.  

It’s also very clear to us that you really don’t believe that ALL LIVES HAVE EQUAL VALUE… If you did, you’d be working to give “ALL” children a “Lakeside School” experience.

Meanwhile, your investments into the Lakeside School experience could go a long ways in our schools of poverty.  I guess, “money matters”.

Instead, you’re foisting your investments in Common Core and a 20 fold increase in testing on our public schools, per Stephen Krashen —all used  to measure, sort and cull our children — which proves your ACTIONS speak louder than your words, Melinda, dearest.

I would say your declaration that ALL LIVES HAVE EQUAL VALUE is pure propaganda.

Please Melinda, dearest, prove me wrong – make your ACTIONS match your WORDS…