from WV Against Common Core by angela summers 06.07.2015
We started this journey 2 ½ years ago to raise awareness about Common Core.
We began with our elected representative, Senator Donna Boley. Senator Boley took us to share our concerns with the Senate Education Chair, and then to the WV State Board of Education. But at each encounter, our concerns over inappropriate and poor standards, adaptive testing, undisclosed costs, and massive student data collection were met with denials and assurances that we were misinformed.
But we had evidence that our concerns were valid and we knew our elected representatives would need to address these problems. So we have continued to raise awareness about the intrusion of the federal government into our classrooms, the invalid testing, the data collection, the flawed common core standards, and what we now see as the exodus from our schools and the impending collapse of our public education system.
We have made presentations to any who would listen, including here at the capitol to individual legislators and to groups of you. We have been to the WV Farm Bureau, the WVGOP, the WV Grange, the WV Chamber of Commerce, county school boards, civic organizations, local community groups and churches. Probably 1000’s have now heard us, and we now have 1000’s of followers on our WV Against Common Core Face Book page.
In 2013, Senator Boley introduced a resolution for a legislative study of Common Core. And again, in 2014, she introduced a study resolution. We, as a group, also sent a formal proposal to Governor Tomblin asking for a study. But neither resolution was ever acted on by the senate and Governor Tomblin never responded to us.
It seemed our elected officials simply did not see Common Core as a serious problem.
So we reached in our pockets and pooled our dollars to cover expenses to bring in the most highly credentialed and knowledgeable experts in the country on Common Core. We have held five Common Core Town Halls – Bridgeport, Wheeling, Barboursville, Morgantown, and Huntington. All of you were invited to these events, invited by many people a multitude of times. To those of you that came, we are very grateful and we thank you. To those that did not come, you were the big elephant NOT in the room and we are still trying to reach you.
We will continue our efforts to reach out to you because our concerns over our education in the Mountain State continue to grow.
They continue to grow because We know these things:
-The Common Core Math and English standards were adopted by the WV Board in 2010 before the standards were released. The standards are copyrighted and can not be changed.
-Experts tell us the standards are not rigorous, nor research based, nor age appropriate.
-500 early childhood experts expressed grave concerns and jointly opposed the standards.
-Common Core’s “college ready” claim really means ready only for community college, but not for STEM majors.
-WV, by contract, has greed to allow the federal government on-going access to individual student data.
-And in 2012, the federal government rewrote and gutted the privacy law, the FERPA law, the very law created to protect student data; and the data can now be released to third parties without parental consent and parents will not even know it happened. In statute, rules, contracts, the phrase “according to applicable privacy law” now means nothing.
-AND now we know at least part of the cost of Common Core, the cost which no one talks about, the cost that includes WV’s $ 1.6 million yearly membership fee with Smarter Balance, and the cost of a $ 71.3 million contract with a testing vendor called AIR. Both the Smarter Balance MOU and the AIR contract were signed by the state superintendent in January of this year. Both contracts are here in these notebooks so you can actually see it and I have a computer disk copy for each Ed Chair if they want it.
Maybe this $ 73 million is not news to this committee, but I can assure you, it is news to the taxpayers who are footing the bill.
-And Ironically, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is NOT even a standardized achievement test. It is an “Adaptive” test meaning it changes depending on a student’s answer – so no 2 students are taking the same test, which disqualifies it as a student comparative test which was the original purpose of “common” standards and “common” tests.
-The tests have never been validated. In fact, our kids are currently the guinea pigs for the testing vendor so they can test their test. Something that AIR, as a professional researcher, usually has to pay for…but instead, we are paying AIR to use our kids for their research purposes.
-The tests have proven to be long, stressful, and often frustrating for students.
-Across the state, the testing has taken weeks & weeks of valuable instructional time.
-And We know that AIR, the testing vendor, does research on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) , while Smarter Balance speaks of Psychometric (personality and emotional) issues and psychological variables in their testing – and all the while we were all thinking these assessments were just for math and English…
-And we know there was a recent data breach in MA where parents learned they too were being evaluated, with data collected, on how “cooperative” they are as parents.
Bottom Line: Parents do not know what data these tests are collecting on their kids, they don’t know what is being analyzed or what research is being done, or what conclusions are drawn, or what records kept, or who it is shared with , and we don’t trust it.
So parents are Opting Out …because they are protecting their children just as they have the fundamental right and the obligation to do. … and they are being met with school administrators who have bullied, harassed, and threatened their children with school suspensions and detentions, and loss of scholarships and academic class placement. Although some administrators have been professional, clearly we have those that have disregarded and disrespected students and parents…a chaos in our schools, all for flawed, unproven and deplorable standards and testing,
Members of the WV State Board have ignored our concerns, and called us right wingers hosting political events. They have lost the public trust. We believe the people of WV are now poised to support a Constitutional Amendment that will dissolve this unaccountable State Board.
This is not a party issue. This is about our kids and saving our collapsing education system. The 2015 legislative session left a gutted repeal bill lying on the senate podium. I am here today to incite you, to inspire you, to implore you to take off your democrat and republican hats, leave them outside on the rotunda floor, roll up your sleeves, get into the weeds, and learn what is happening in our classrooms. You can no longer be a bystander in the Common Core war.
This legislature has the responsibility and the obligation to protect the fundamental rights of parents, and to save our students. So I am pleading with you today to repeal Common Core, withdraw from smarter balance, stop the data collection; and get the federal government out of WV classrooms.