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tv   Book Discussion on Drilling through the Core  CSPAN  October 25, 2015 2:45pm-4:18pm EDT

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>> you are watching booktv, non-fiction authors every weekend. television for serious readers. >> next we'll talk about common core and the adoption as a standard curriculum. >> good morning, i am jim
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sturges, the publish of "drilling through the core." five years into the debate over common core we are at a critical juncture. it is shown to have the lowest approvals and it has dwindled from 26 states and washington to seven states and washington, d.c. it is no longer viable actually. tests are not doing better. it is true to say there is little common purpose left in common core. so this volume we are releasing this morning, "drilling through the core," is definitely a timely release. but five years into the this great american education debate it is worth remembering what we are debating. it is not politics. but the debate is a contest between two distinct views.
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the first is common core standards are a state effort to improve k-12 education and help children in under performing districts. the second view is the common core standard are of dubious academic quality and is a state and local issue. "drilling through the core" is a book that strives to treat the first view fairly but argue the second view should prevail. a little on the publisher pioneer institute. pioneer institute has been called the brains of the common core implication. but we cut issues on k-12 reform and helped states make historic strides in approving schools and establishing the highest performing charter school section in the nation. massachusetts has been at the top of every measure in
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academics in the country. we rank among the top six countries on math and science on international testament we are proud of the state and contributions. with the arrival of common core we realized we had to expand the borders beyond massachusetts. "drilling through the core" is a culmination of evidence and the book tries to answer three questions that apply to three different groups. the first is for parents of common core is academically rigorous, for states how much does it cost to implement common core and the aligned test, and for congress are the common core standards in the federal-funded test legal? two final comments before we
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hear from the panel of experts. 12 authors and scholars contributed to this, a volume that has been edited and an introduction from peter wood. the first comment i have is contrary to scholars why respect is standards do matter. pioneer is advocating for the best standards we can have for students. this is not a paper debate. standards are more than just a simple written document especially in the hands of massachusetts that took the goals seriously and implemented tests that were aligned and teacher certification students. i would like to recognize the individual whose name does not appear in the volume. jimmy gas, the pioneer's director of education on
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research, has been the driving force for pioneer in developing the strategy we have undertaken, in engaging the best minds you will hear from today, and making sure we maintain a seriousness of purposeness on the issue. james' finger prints are all over this volume. with that, let me invite dr. peter wood, the editor and author, to step to the podium. >> well, thank you. the common core has already touched the lives of millions of americans. i use the words touched cautiously here in that it has been a rather hard touch and left bruises. the bruises are mainly what i want to talk about in the next 20 minutes. there are probably too many of them to fit into that amount of time so let me try to organize
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this a little bit in the form of something like this. the lower academic quality is for me the primary issue. i am an academic with an organization called the national association of scholars and i am concerned the students who reach college, be prepared for college, and are ready to perform well once they reach the college classroom. the common core has been sold as something that makes students in high school, college, and career-ready. the career-ready part falls away quickly. it is meant to be college-ready. it is a false advertisement and doesn't do that. it lowers standards. the other two areas are the enormous cost and the failure to be a good pathway to the sciences/s.t.e.m. areas. let me take care of the last two first because i want to spend more time on the academic quality issue. the enormous cost are a bit hard
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to pin down but one of the panel experts here is an expert on that. we came up with the figure of $16 billion nationwide as the overall cost of implementation of the common core. that $16 billion figure we know is probably a low-ball estimate. it is going to be more than $16 billion. you will not find any accounting of what these numbers are, what the actually cost are in the common core's promotional material. this debate has gone on in this country for five or six years and we are doing it without much knowledge in the numbers. but slowly and surely some of the numbers are coming forth. in california, one of the states that broke down the additional cost of common core, is something like $2.5 billion in
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additi additional textbooks, $5.5 billion for professional development, and $7 billion for technology. those are national numbers. i stand corrected. california has 12% of the u.s. population so we can project on california's bases how this is knowing to look nationally within a few years. the numbers i am talking about are not one-year expenditures. they are expended over seven years in most cases. in california, the expenses are outrunning the projections already we are finding. the issue on science preparation, really comes down to the fact that the common core, although it focuses on math and on english language arts, lays the bases so thin in
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mathematics that the sciences are crippled. by the time students graduate from high school, unless they have been in accelerated programs or taken after-school programs, the bases to succeed in science is thin. the simple way of pointing this out is the teaching of algebra has been pushed back into higher grades so there is not enough room left in most high school curriculum for students to proceed even as far as pre-calculus. this means students are arriving unprepared on the s.t.e.m. track and in other areas as well and that is where i will focus my attention. the common core promotes itself as making students career and college ready. being college ready means what? it means in the eyes of the founders of this educational reform that students are
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prepared to engage in critical thinking and learned through reading text for informational content and develop evidence-based arguments on the bases of the readings they get. now those things stated in the abstract sound wholesome. wouldn't we want students to be critical thinkers, be able to read text, and be able to construct good arguments on the bases of that information. the answer to those questions is a re-sounding, yes, we want that. but how do we get there? well, this i think requires me to do what academics are famous and that is taking a simple subject and making it more complicated. so for a few minutes i will c p complicate. the complications are something like this: the united states has over the past 200 years
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proven not to be a very good nation when it comes to figure out how to educate its children. we have had, starting probably with horris man in the 1930's, wave after wave of reform attempts that have almost every single one of them resulted in making the problem worse and am venting new problems. i don't have time to give a recitation on the history of american education, but the common core should be seen as the latest in a long series of these following on no child left behind and reforms in the 1990's back to the 1984 nation at risk report. all of these together point to a deep satisfaction from americans on the way the schools proceed. when the common core started
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taking shape in 2007 it was building on pent up dissatisfaction and that dissatisfaction has a variety of forms and one of them was the dissatisfaction that the educational establishment had with the way in which our system of education serves student who don't perform well. one of the first steps of common core was it was going to set higher standards and redefine the word higher to mean more inclusive of different kinds of students. so the common core story begins in 2006 when david coleman and his partner jason zimba, a professor of mathematics, got together and started thinking about how to recast the standards. they were coming on the heels of series of efforts from people who wanted to nationalize our
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standards and make the schools a national project rather than local and state project. they came up with a clever way around this which was since the constitution and statutory law for the most part forbid the national government from taking over the schools, or setting a curriculum, they said let's do it at the state level, but coordinate all of the states so at the same time they adopt the same standards and we will have de facto national standards. sounded like a great idea and with the backing of bill gates money they went to the governor's association, an organization called achieve that was founded in 1996, and went to the association of chief officers for schools and made the pitch of this is how we can get around the constitutional obstacles and have real educational reform in the
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country. the national governors association and the school council organizations convened the common core initiative and we were off to the races. this was initially very poplar with governors and states. 46 states adopted it in principle as something they wanted to do or were willing to explore. then we had the recession and in 2009 when president obama found himself with billions of dollars on hand as part of the stimulus package he was looking for shovel-ready projects and the secretary of education, arnie duncan said he had one on hand and that was let's put some of the stum -- stimulus money into
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the common core. the states were desperate for money and within a matter of a few months we had states officially signing on to the common core k-12 state standards. the trouble was there were no such standards. they had not been written, they were conceptual and the project of creating them was underway even as the states were saying we are ready to adopt them. the mess we are in flows from that moment in 2009 and 2010 when the states rushed in to adopt common core without knowing what they were getting into in the hopes it would mean a lot more money. some of the states got some money but we know the cost of implementing the cost of common core far outspend what the federal government was willing to put into it. the common core came with a lot of promises. it was to be internationally
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benched marked meaning we would set standards at least equal to those who are the best in the world. the international benchmarking piece has been forgotten. now it is we acknowledge other countries have standards, and ours are not as good, but so what? the information on informational text it is the opportunity for distancing literature. the text meant everything from reading repair manuals and sometimes reading literature out of context and in the form of x experts and it is on a sliding scale with less attention to literature as you go through the grades. if you approach education as a utilitarian thing, learning how to read and express yourself,
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maybe it doesn't matter much. but literature is the key to the most important dimensions of reading; getting the arguments across that involve imagination, moral conceptions, the idea of what it means to be something instead of an extractor of education is scanted in common core and that remains a problem today. the common core sets itself against the american family in an odd way and that is clearest when it comes to math instruction where in the early grades math has been turned into a tortous set of instructional procedures that parents cannot understand. so it puts a wall between parents and children when you try to learn and help children.
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most parents find themselves baffled by the new procedures. the claim this is going to make students college-ready just appears to be rather odd. there are colleges signing on saying we will accept students who have common core education as college-ready.
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adjust your course to their. he how does common core make students college, ready? not by improving students but dumbing down the colleges. if they're state colleges, when their states agreed to do the common core, they agreed in principle they would abandon remedial courses and treat common core education as everything you needed in order to attend college. as i said, the bruises here go on and on. one might point to the disempowerment of teachers. the common core's advocates are fond of saying it's not a curriculum, simply a set of standards. that's a distinction without much of a difference. the standards are so minute in so many cases they leave teachers extremely little room how to teach, what to teach or when to teach it. so it's not literally a
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curriculum in that it didn't speaks specify the exact texts and what the lesson plans might lock like, but apart from that, it is a straight jacket, and teachers among most vociferous critics of common core. the nea were strong opponents of the common core, and now there's been a big split between the leadership of the teachers inons and the rank-and-file, who find that common core is unbearable. didn't like "no child left behind." they like the common core even less. the common core does that because it has built into it a preposition -- proposition that the -- simply treated as a pile
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of words. the treatment of texts as piles of words, the signature movement of the common core, it takes the history, it takes the personalities, the understanding of human context out of the teaching. teachers can try to smuggle it back in, but that brings us to the next problem, which is that the common core is not simple play set of standards floating out there, telling teachers what to do. it's a line to a set of tests. in principle it is to make the common core work, two testing con shore should, one called smarter balance, the other called park, which i can never remember exactly what that stands for.
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-- were created in tornado set up national tests marketed through the states. the states could choose to be part of smarter balance or park or both. initially states rushed in, as you just heard in the introduction, states are now rushing back out. leaving these national consortium doesn't mean they got out of the test games. the defeats the purpose of the common core to nationalize everything. now it's denationalizing and going back to in some sense a state level but a state level marred by its implementation of a set of rules that get in the way of state autonomy. the common core has what i call a forensic approach to knowledge. everything is now evident. you're teaching students to think not in terms of trying to put together a whole
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understanding of things but to break them down into pieces in order to make arguments, as though we would like every student in the country to be a minilawyer. this forensic approach again has some merit. it's a good idea that people learn how to make arguments. but that's all they learn how to do in a k-12 education. we are missing a great deal. this movement for the common core, i've depicted it as falsely labeled as a state-level initiative. it really looks like something that nationalizes. it does have the fingerprints of the federal government on it through president obama and the department of education. but it's really important to see that it arose from and remains to a large extent a private enterprise. the national governors association is a private organization, and the copyright
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on the common core is held by a private organization. these two testing consortiums are private organizations. being private means they do not have to disclose or not subject to foia requests or anything else. the process by which they arrive at their standards, how they change their standard, the questions that go into their tests, it's all a black box. when i said earlier this disrupts the family, puts some kind of wall between the learning that young children are doing and how their parents can help, that wall is even higher. it's a wall that shuts off all of us. the public in general, teachers-parents, everybody, from what actually now makes up the content of an american public education. what sense do we have public education left when he decided to privatize the whole enterprise by handing it over to a bunch of organizations that have names, that vaguely suggest
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they're public -- in the national governors association. what's that? but are not in fact public. they're private. and they intend to keep their privacy. we know because we have been trying to get information out of them for the past five or six years, and it's precious hard to get. now if there are other components, one is that although it was not initially part of the scheme for the common core, when the federal government made the common core part of the race to the top, it added a demand that the states also adopt a state longitudal data collection or data mining, as we call it. the idea was that students' performance on the common core from kindergarten through 12th 12th grade should be measured, and the data from that should go into a national database. well, as soon as the database stuff got out, one organization called in bloom was one of the
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arm contractors. it later went bankrupt. but the data collection mandate remains there. the states bridled at turning the information over to the government but the two private testing con shore jump liked the idea. park has extended it from k-12 through pre-k through graduate school, which is to say on every american who attends school, every built of data, every agreed, every assignment, everything you do in school is in principle going to be recorded and transmitted to a national addiction it sounds too awful to be true but that exactly what the plan was. i have doubts it will materialize as a fact. the public revulsion at this idea is quite strong but it tells you something about the people who planned and implemented the common core, that they heard this idea and thought, hey, this is great stuff.
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well, the position that we're in at this point, i would say, is one that involves a certain amount of philosophy as well as the pragmatics of the implement addition of the set of reforms. to see common core as a whole could take quite a while. we have written a whole book with the details. it doesn't quite get to some of what i think needs to be said, and which i'll conclude with. that is, this common core is a vision of what education should look like for this country, and it's a vision i'd say has four parts. one is a cult of expertise. this is education in the form of people saying, we know best. we have studied this.
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we deep understanding, listen to us. that element of education that allows parents, teachers, local communities to have some say in what education should look like, has been sacrificed to this cult of expertise. second it hat an experimental element. i'm not against experimentation. i think it's healthy. but this is one of those experiments in which we don't have any safeguards. we're experimenting with whole country at once. we're eliminating the possibility of local variation, people trying things out and discarding them. instead we put all our eggses in one basket and that kind of experimentation is dangerous. third, i've used the word before but this is a utilitarian approach to education. i mentioned bill gateses' money is behind this. he has been major financial supporter and ideological advocate of it. what he would like and many of the supporters of common core
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would like is a form of education that prepares students who go into the workplace with a set of skills they can immediately put to task earning a living. of course we want children to learn to grow up and be productive members of society, but education, more than utilitarian, it has to do with trying to form whole people who will be good citizens and lead complete lives. and that's stunting of occasion in a utilitarian straitjacket is a bad idea. finally, most importantly, the common core is centralization. american education has never been successfully centralized. there have always been people who would like to have seen it centralized. and whoa have fourth for it, but there's been ferocious pushback from the american people, actually from the term of orange county -- gorge e gorge
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washington on. the constitution leaves education to the states. the states for a great part of their effort leave most of the education to local communities. the community-state partnership has been norm by which we have conducted education in this country for over 200 years. the common core puts a full stop to that. in fact, the founder of achieve, one of the partners to the common core a few years other called for the abolition of all local school boards. i don't believe that's part of the official common core mantra at this opinion but it is very much in the spirit of what the common core brings. centralization for its own good. standards, by standards, because they lead to centralization. why centralization? because it leads to standards. it's a kind of circularity to this whole thing. i'm not od to standards.
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i think it would be great thing if i found freshmen coming into college both literate and having reads' good books more and more we have book virgins, people who reach college without having read a single book. the common core is going to create more book virgins. it is not a curriculum that leads students to the place they need to be in order to achieve in college the kind of education that we would like to see the young men and women in this country bring about. so, thank you. [applause] >> let me introduce sandra stotsky next. a professor iometer to of -- one of the great reformers of this movement.
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>> thank you. i come before you not only as a retired professor from the university of arkansas but also as one of the members of common core's validation committee 2009-2010, along with professor milligram we were two of the people on this less than 30-member committee who did not sign off on common core standards back in 2010 when they were first released. i will speak about my involvement in the common core for the humanities and i have co authored in the volume we are introducing today several of the chapters that address the effect of common core's standards on the teaching of the humanities and the curriculum in english
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language arts reading and history in k-12. we have heard that standards matter. i'm organizing my talk focusing on english language arts, about how standards literally matter, and here i draw on my experience in the massachusetts department of education, over ten years ago, where i was in charge of revising or developing all of our k-12 standards, and we were determined with the help of teachers -- and i'll focus on english language arts primarily -- with the help of english teachers in high schools to develop a set of standards that focus on literature. the teaching of lilt tour. the teaching and learning of literary text. why? because that in their judgment was what taught students how to read between the lines, so that they could become analytical
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readers, thinkers, and writers, and thereby essentially become college-ready or whatever else they chose to do. the first influence of the standards that we created back in 2000 and the next few years, was on the classroom curriculum. standards are not the curriculum but they guide and shape the curriculum, and here is the first problem witch common core's ela. the standards are mainly skills, not content-oriented standards. veryworkly, what do i mean by that? -- very quickly, what do i mean? here's a simplified skill-based standard. find the main idea and supporting details. it can apply to the three little pigs, to moby dick. doesn't tell you where you go in terms of difficulty level,
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culture, or history. or understanding or choosing a particular work for the classroom. a true standard, which our english teachers helped to develop and supported in grades nine and ten, was understand, analyze, become familiar with, themes and structures of classical greek and roman epic poetry. rounds esoteric but meant that teachers in grades nine or ten could teach the illat, the odyssey, whatever they chose, but that would be the period of classical literature they would choose from to help develop the base of knowledge, literary historical knowledge, that my co-author, mark bowerline, professor of english, and i talk about in one our chapters. the first effect of standards would be on the classroom
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curriculum. the second would be on the student tests that we were also developing in massachusetts at the time, because it was required by the massachusetts education reform act. a remarkable and well-written piece of reform, true reform legislation that came out in '93-'94. the tests, which were in massachusetts, called massachusetts comprehensive assessment system, this are the tests that had as their major focus in the reading section literary study because that was what teachers wanted. it was not imposed by a board, by political considerations or by even someone like me in the department who did favor literary standards, but that is what teachers wanted because we passed out surveys to make sure that is what they wanted. may i ask you to please give me a minute's warning so i know when to close up if you can.
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so, we had an effect on the standards -- the standards had the effect on the student tests to begin with. but that wasn't the primary affect i was concerned about. my concern went beyond student tests, as important as they seem to be in today's environment, and i'll say more about that. we were also concerned, i in particular, with their effect on teacher training and teacher licensure tests, and teacher professional development, because if you want more demanding, first-class standards, you have to have teachers who can teach to them. otherwise, your standards are simply empty words on paper. so i will tike finally a little bit more about those two final thrusts of what we did in massachusetts that produced the highest achieving students, not only on our national report
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card, aep the national assessment of education recall progress, but in grade eight we were tied in science for first place with singapore, because we entered as a second country, and we were among the top countries in math, grade four and eight, on the international test. so we had independent confirmation, something that we couldn't manipulate, for massachusetts or the u.s. we had independent international confirmation that we were going in the right direction, and indeed all students were improving. not just at the top, not just the middle, but in the bottom as well ask all demographic groups, exactly what we all wanted in massachusetts. even though that does not seem to be where common core is now going. so, those of the four areas i will touch upon briefly. what are the major problems with common core's ela standards? as you heard, there is a focus
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on informational reading. i've mentioned they're skill-based standards so we have almost no content in these k-12 standards to guide the curriculum in the classroom, which leaves it very open to manipulation by the student techs coming through, but we have a problem in that more than half of the reading standards are for something called informational reading, something that english teachers were not trained to teach, have never been trained historically to teach, and frankly do not teach in general because information belongs in other areas of the curriculum. not in the english class but over half of the reading standards are something called informational reading. less than half are literary reading which has always been the major content of the english class, and which of course was
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the major thrust in massachusetts by teachers' own preferences. why did they go in that direction? that was what i kept asking questions about, because i come from the field in graduate work of reading. reading instruction, reading research, and we know that there is no basis in research or even historical or empirical research to even suggest that if the english class teaches something called informational text, it will make students better ready for college. this is not the case. nevertheless, what passes for something called informational text is a problem, but the fact it this is not what teachers are trained in an english class to do, and yet those are over half of their reading standards. also missing from common core were list's recommended authors and titles, which we had in
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massachusetts, so i had good basis for judging what was not in common core. and that was what mark bowerline and i noted. then when i did another paper with anthony -- a published poet, professor of literature at providence college, his concern was, where was at the poetry? i only have a minute to get into the others. so, we now have a poor set of standards in english language arts to look at the tests, because the tests show how those standards are being used for students, and when we look at the tests which this year have hit school systems across the country, whether they're partnership for assessment in readiness for college and career -- took me a while to learn what that meant -- and then smarter balance. turns out from our own analysis that it's writing prompts don't
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even elicit the kind of writing done in college or the real world of work. so, how did we buy into a flawed system that, when it's implemented for and substantiated in the test items doesn't get us where we want. it has format for assessing vocabulary that is completely wrong, research-wise, and misguides or misleads teachers about what to do in their own classrooms, and it features so-called innovative test items for which there is no support for the claim that they will tap deeper thinking and reasoning and develop critical thinking. and where does this go? it goes directly to teacher training colleges, who now must train their teachers for accreditation -- that's the catch -- to teach to common core's standards, and it then goes to professional development on which we spend billions in
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this country, and we have an army of professional developers who are now further misguiding the teacher in the classroom, training schools will take care of prospective teachers. professional development will take care of those already licensed and in the classroom. so, we have right now ongoing battle on what should be the nature of accreditation for teacher training programs and administrative training programs, and how do we cope with better standards -- a set of standards that will effectively cripple our future teaching force. thank you. [applause] >> thank you, sandra. next we'll be hearing from james milgram, who is a professor emeritus of algebra.
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>> okay. let me apologize in the beginning. i can barely see you out there because in my world, it's 6:30. so, with that in mind, i'll try my best. so, i want to talk about double speak. because that's what we're dealing with when we talk about common core. let's begin with considering the word "rigorous." that you hear every proponent of common core use to describe these standards, and constantly, we want rigorous standards for our state, our previous
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standards weren't rigorous, and so on. every state uses this kind of verbiage. for me, and -- as mathematician and probably for most of you, when we hear the word "rigorous," we think careful, precise, and above all, correct. some may have a a connotation of boring, frustrating, but what we think specifically is above all correct. but for educators, this is too boring. so, for people who speak education-ese, it has a different meaning and it's important we understand the different meaning. i put the whole definition into these notes that we're -- being
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sent out. the incomprehendible common core math standards. let me read one sentence. they may use the term rigorous to describe learning environments that are not intended to be harsh, rigid, or overly prescriptive but that are stimulating, edge gauging and supportive. -- engaging and supportive. if you think about that for a minute, you well realize that this is the dead opposite of what we in the real english speaking world think of as rigorous. so, what you got is you got this professional educator, if you want, typically of distinguished faculty member within the schools of education, standing up in front of people and saying, we have created rigorous standards.
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well, you're thinking one thing but what are they texas thinking? they're thinking creative, flexible, fun, and it's a different world. of course, this is only one of many, many examples where a word is used in the context of the education world to mean a dead opposite of what it means in standard english. i won't go on with other examples but keep that in mind. keep that in mind. i should say, i can't really handle reading even my watch so please let me know a minute or two in advance when i should stop. all right. so now let's look at the common core math standards. the first thing is that as professor stotsky mentioned,
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both of us were on this thing called the validation committee for common core, a committee selected by the governors of the various states and by achieve, and by other people who are unknown to me, to validate the common core standards, at least that was our charge. what we were asked to do was to check the research underlying the common core, verify that it's correct, and sign off on the standards as research-based and standards that cover the topic that need to be covered. in fact, if we didn't like the way the common core was written, the final version, part of our charge was to rewrite it. when it became clear that i and sandy fully intended to take advantage of the charge, the
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charge was rapidly changed. and the final charge that we were asked to do was simply to sign a letter saying the common core standards are excellent. there was no other option in that letter. the common core standards are excellent. so, we could sign or not sign. if we didn't sign, and there were five of us who didn't sign -- then they tried very, very hard to erase our membership in the committee. fortunately some of us remembered that we were on a committee so that hasn't worked exactly. in mathematics, the standards themselves are very low level. they are said to be internationally bench--marked. well, they gave up on that after a while, and now if you read the web site, they say, they were
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compared to the international stanford the high achieving countries. compared. no implication whatsoever they were comparable. just compared. and in fact, overall, in the common core standards, if you compare them against the standards of the high achieving countries internationally, then by eight grade their two to three years behind. but as bad as that sounds, something that i haven't told people about -- a lot of people have heard that. what i haven't told people about is that it us far worse for the high school graduates. the high school math curriculum stops with algebra ii. and algebra ii is barely the beginning of the real subject.
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moreover, sitting in the middle of that is the standards for geometry, and those are interesting. it is -- the approach there -- i don't know that professor stotsky emphasized enough the degree to which the common core standards prescribe -- they tell the teachers how to teach and what to teach. standards is not unreasonable that standards tell them what to teach but it's a new phenomenon that standards tell them how to teach it. in particular, the prescriptive description of the geometry that occurs in the common core standards, i guess i would describe it as describing one of
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the strangest approaches to geometry in the world, and moreover, it's one that we know has not worked the few times it's been tried in the past, except to the honest to be fair, for one really tiny little area in flemish speaking belgium. that's it. there is no research basis in the literature nor experience, in the experiences internationally, for this particular form of geometry, and that is typical of the kind of research that is actually in the common core standards. thank you. >> so, as a consequence, something that also is not commonly considered, that part of the duty of mathematics in the high school is to provide
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the background needed for the sciences. so, a certain amount of algebra is needed in physics, and so that's provided about a year before typically a student would take the physics course. more is needed for chemistry. and biology, but biology in the high schools is not biology anymore so that's not true. but the -- in particular, chemistry and physics, you need certain amount of mathematics in order to take those courses. well, common core is not supplying it. it's moving algebra one year late sore the usual arctic calculation between -- articulation between the algebra and physics isn't there anymore, and the geometry and other things needed in chemistry as well, again, it's simply not
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there. so, the articulation between the sciences and the mathematics is one. well, they anticipated that. they prepared for that. we now have something called the next generation science standards. which are characterized as our common core as been content-free. and that is incomprehensible to me. how can you have content-free science? so, this is ironic in that my son has just started his second career as a high school science and biology teacher, and i'm using his ph.d in molecular biology and considerable work on
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the human genome project, his background. now, he is telling me that the high school teachers in science and some in mathematics are leaving in droves because they see the writing on the wall. and what is going to be -- what is being planned is totally proscriptive courses that are cob tent-free not only in mathematics but also in sciences. so, the education that you are getting in your high school, the career and college-ready, is -- becomes progressively even weaker when you look at the broader picture. and indeed, it was very difficult for us but we found out how the people writing and constructing common core actually defined college-ready
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and it's worth -- i think i'll conclude with that. it's worth noting this. about the they meant by college-ready is quite straightforward. it means for them -- and we're back to my theme of double speak -- ready for college is ready for a two-year community college or conceivably for a private for-profit four-year college or university, such as university of phoenix, which is of course we know is in desperate trouble now because of all the fun things they do with government money, and what they do not mean is a real public or private four-year university.
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what they do not mean is that. what they do mean is little things that just sit out there and hopefully prepare kids who are sufficiently far behind for real university courses. okay. so, i think i'll stop there, and thank you for your attention. [applause] >> thank you. next up we have -- we have professor wurman, an electrical engineering and working on higher education. >> good morning. i live in california but my accent is not from california.
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i'm sure you noted that. i think i don't hear well but somebody called me professor. i'm not a professor. i'm an engineer. i have a chapter about mathematics but i also did some course evaluations and i'd like too speak to that because particularly important. and dr. wood mention ted beginning the early estimates done by pioneer, and they assessed the course of implementation of common core is $16 billion nationwide for over seven years. the fordham institute, a big proponent of common core, immediately commissioned another study that came up with lower numbers anywhere from $3 billion to $12 billion. high end was 12. low end, if it's a smart implementation and minimal,
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$3 billion is meanty. well, that was then, now is now. california is one oof the states that it made the cost of common core explicit. other states followed it into -- fold it into the regular educational budget. california had a separate budget item for the one-time implementation. over the last three. >> fiscal years, including next fiscal year, -- october, next month -- anyway, over the three years, the budgeted numbers are $5.2 billion only for california. so, 14, 15, and 16, california allocated $5.2 billion for implementing common core.
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the original estimate by california department of education, the various research, was 106. in other words, within three years, not seven years, we are more than three times higher than officially claimed it is really costing. i'm sure the numbers across the nation are similar, except they're hidden. which brings me to another point. despite all this, some of the school districts in california are suing sacramento because they claim the testing is unfounded mandate -- unfunded mandate because they have to buy all these computers quickly because they have to test the kids on the computer, but there is not enough money even that, and the current estimate is on the order of a billion dollars a year ongoing forever, for technology. now, you would think, how do they come to this crazy numbers? well, let me tell you something. very simple.
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if you assume, if you need the computer for four students for test -- not much -- one computer for four students -- and it's a cheap computer. 500 watt computer, including software, cheaper than your phone. for five years, 20% amortization basically every year, and then you include maintenance and insurance and everything, which is another 20%, you come to thousand dollars over five years. 500 is the cost and another five years of maintenance and such, $1,000. divided by four, $250 per student, or five years of $50 per student every year ongoing forever just for testing. some of them will be used in the classroom because they don't want you working the machines --
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-- testing commute computers. so how much is 50 bucks a year per student on the average? the current testing costs in most states are below $30. so it's more than double. just for the technology. forget about the actual cost of the test toes a mr.. talking about a lot of money forever, and they have to do it immediately, why in the past you didn't have rush. you had the money, you bought equipment. here you have to have it because otherwise kids are not tested. so, let me now -- the cost of testing and everything, but, okay, do we pay the money? did you get the better test? you know what? maybe. so much money, another billion here, another billion there, is this worth it, right?
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well, it turns out that the implement addition of the test is -- implementation of the test is awful. one proponent in california described it as building the airplane as it's taxiing down the runway. sounds heroic but would you hire a contractor that sayslery gallon of the plans in the middle of the building of your house. would you hire this kind of person? so heroic is one thing. stupid is another. anyway, i want to go a little bit -- another couple of minutes. i'm speaking fast. i touched on the issue of mathematic, and professor milgram was talk about mostly high school. let me point out a little bit what's happening in the elementary grades. and middle.
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a lot of people argue, what should go -- what mathematics should go in which grade and in a sense you can say why should i believe you rather than him? everybody argues his own way. me, not being a professor of mathematics at stanford, i just went to the residential mat mat ticks advisory panel seven years back, a penal say dem belled by -- assembled by the president, experts in math macticks and science, and it came out with unanimous recommendation. now, it clued people from both side of the aisle, if you wish. some today support common core, not partisan. and it came with a unanimous strongly based research recommendation.
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part of this recommendation was actually to benchmarks. what it should know at certain grades in elementary, in middle grades. so i went to this report, and i compared it to what common core expects, and clearly, and visible to anyone, common core is the expectations are one to two years behind. more than that, the national math advisory panel strongly recommended to aim at providing algebra i at grade eight. not high school, grade eight. unanimous recommendation. aim for that. that's what other people are doing. in fact that's what common core promise 2008. we'll do this now. they come back and say, forget it. we put algebra i in grade nine. high school.
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now, they would say, don't worry, that's right a lot of allergy bra algebra in grade eight. while do the sale halve algebra in grade nine? enjoy torturing the students in that's not true. algebra is a grade eight. common core is barely the old algebra. grade seven. so, we have a situation where the elementary grades are below international benchmark clearly, information they're not claiming this anymore, just compared or informed by but not compared. algebra is a clearer, clearer benchmark, standing in high school rather than grade eight. and that is it. thank you. [applause]
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>> dr. williamson efforts at the hoover institution and former assistant secretary of education. >> so, i'm talking about centralization. we leave in a decentralized country in terms of our government and also in terms of our education. so what does in the federal government given news the way of education historically when it comes to curriculum and what goes on in the classroom? well, it's given us social studies. instead of history, focusing on current problems. this was a federal invention. back at the time of world were
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1. -- world war i. it gave is life judgment, topics like lou to bake a cherry pie and what to do on a date and how to fill out insurance forms. that was a brilliant idea from the federal government. it gave us the new math of the 1960s. i don't know if you ever heard the famous tom lear song about how to do that, only the theme is only a child can do it, referring again to this breakup of the family because in the 1960s, i can remember the new math quite well. the parents could not possibly what was going on -- understand what was going on and of the same features of the new math of the 1960s are back if glory common core itch think most tragically, the federal government gave us the emphasis that blacks should be forbidden from having academic education, they should only get vocational
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education. another brilliant idea of the federal government. in contrast, what does the state government given us? well, charter schools come out of minnesota, copied by other states. vouchers have been something that has come out in states and localities. accountability and standards were something that came out in the 1980s. beginning then and to the present. so, i think actually when you compare the two, the states are actually -- the federal government is course counterproductive. so what actually happened here? well, we had a set of people, people are what do everything. we talk about institutions, but there were people that have wanted national uniformity in the classroom. they like -- there's a famous -- probably a hard caricature of
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france than the it's, in france they're on the same age in the same day in every subject and they wanted that in the united states. and so they wanted this uniformity of curriculum and they wanted to make sure it happened so they wanted it policed be federally funded tests. so that's what common core is. that's the project here. and there were people that -- some various kinds of attempts during george h.w. bush's administration, bush 41, and during the bill clinton administration to do some of this, some of you may remember that national history standards were voted down by the u.s. senate 99-1. that was part of an earlier effort to do this sort of thing. so, you hear people that are promoting common core say that it's state-led thing. but it's not as if state
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legislators ever got together and said, we're sending representatives from our state to some big conclave with a mandate from us and the state government here in nebraska or whatever, to put together some sort of -- that's not what happened. so both jim and sandy have been talking about the validation and the secrecy and whatever that went on there, but it certainly wasn't this big state conclave of any sort. in terms of the states issue think you should look at the sunny purdue, the republican governor of georgia at the time that all this was going on, and he was a major figure in the policy arm of the national governorrers association. he did not like the fact that georgia, where the students were not performing that well-connally was getting compared -- constantly was getting paired -- students were getting compared to students from other states that had
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different standards so he at was right in with these other people that wanted national uniformity, because that's way the entire country is brought to the level of georgia. and that's what was done. so, i personally don't agree with that. i think georgia should be climbing its ladder of achievement and not drag massachusetts down and not too precipitously drag louisiana and mississippi up. i'm in favor of mississippi and louisiana climbing but i don't think they should be wrenched up and i don't think that massachusetts or california's standards should be dumbed down. so, why do we have federalism? it's not just that somebody wrote a piece of paper in the 1780s and we engaged in some
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kind of worship of it. not that i'm against taking it very seriously, the constitution, good thing, people there were smart that wrote it and they have studied history and government a lot. the thing is, if you have decentralized institutions, you can try different alternatives out. you can do different things do the same thing more effectively, mow -- more efortunatelily. why louis brandeis called the states laboratories democracy. you can match voter preferences. you can match better, situation, the needs of people in different places. you can also -- you can allow people to escape. if they don't like what is in the jurisdiction they're living in, they can go to a place where something different is going on. now, if you have a common
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curriculum that's policed by testing, then your win way of differentiating -- this is what goes on in the classroom. it's really the essence of education. -- is lost. we're dee deprived of trying better things. deprived of trying different things. some of the different things might actually end up being got but we could find out witch wouldn't be stuck with this rigid motions way of doing geometry that professor milgram talked about. ...
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>> and all sorts of statistical stuff that has to be done to get at what is going on. she found having a situation where parents could move their children within margin and income to a different district put pressure on the districts to do better. it is more awkward than competition in business but gives pressure in government institutions and people need that. if we look at mississippi and north carolina, and starting in
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the 1950's and both are low at the bottom. north carolina made a huge effort to get better trying a variety of things and they are better than mississippi who didn't make the effort. massachusetts used to be in the middle ranks. but with teacher testing, training, curriculum development, writing the standards that guided curriculum, in testing the students, and a whole variety of areas they went for excellence and climbed to the top. governors, people promoting the state, could say come to massachusetts, put your company in massachusetts, because the workforce is well-educated. you are coming and moving there
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and your executive and workforce will have a good school. this is an attractive thing. we lose a concern amount of this. we don't really need centralization as we look around the world we see a variety of countries since the united states is, of course american exceptionalism, and part of that, a major part, is we are more location, local authority, local control and things brought closer to the individual. most countries are more centralistic. i gave the example of france. the people that promote common core will say things like well the countries doing better than the united states have a national curriculum and forcing of everyone to be in the same place. they are right about this; the countries that do better. but the countries that do worse
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than the united states have the centralized education system as well. we are an unusual country. we have a decentralized pattern of education. we can use this to climb to the top. two countries that are fairly similar to the united states in culture and history are canada and australia. canada doesn't have a national ministry or department of education. they make all efforts at the state level and they make mistakes but they have climbed since the 1970s from being mead ocher with the united states to being an advanced country in terms of international competition on the test of math and science that are done. you don't need, in fact it seems showing by canada, that you can do better without this.
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so in conclusion, i would like to say this is a counter productive effort that runs against solitary pattern in american institutions of education. it is unfortunate for children, teachers and parents. thank you. [applause] >> so if you have questions, please come up to the microphone here. >> this -- neal cline, academics, my question is is there any empirical evidence whatsoever to support reading across the curriculum? >> no. that was a rather ill-fated
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attempt a number of decades ago, i looked at the history of reading across the curriculum and writing across the curriculum. one called whack and the other r-whack and both ended up fizzling out over the years because it simply didn't work at the high school level. i am not aware of what the research at the college level for it was. but it didn't make much sense except in the general sense that yes, teachers beyond the english class, should do reading and writing but what did you want in a high school science class? more writing or hands-on lab work? and math was rel to be focused on reading and writing about math. it just didn't work out. there is no body of research
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whatsoever of these two movements. >> i wonder if you could talk about the three federal laws. what are the three federal laws and talk about those. >> so, it is not just the pattern of federalism that sits in the constitution. but congress was concerned about the potential for federal interference and federal imposition of uniformity. going back to the eisenhower in the late '50s and the federal government put in mioney and congress was concerned about the serious interference with curriculum. there were three federal stat e
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statutes that forbid any, and the word any is very important because you give these guys any -- excuse me for the pun -- but they will go in through any opening. so it is at any direction or control of curriculum. and the statutes that are currently applicable are the element and second education act that came in during the johnson era and it is now the no child left behind. and then there is the general education act. and then you remember under jimmy carter in the later part of his rein his administration put in the u.s. department of education so the u.s. department of education organization act. all of these three statutes have varieties of the same
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prohibition on control and supervision of curriculum. and clearly, the federal government in working to support common core, and funding aspects of it, is running counter to the spirit, and i would say the letter of the law. >> dr. wood commented about the gates foundation funding a lot of the work on the other side of this. i know particularly with dr. scott and your partner, you have done a lot of work on this. can you comment on the funding on the opposing side? >> i am not sure there was any funding. >> do you want to know about the
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pro-common core side? we can tell you about both. >> let me take it. i think it is through pioneers that have organized this and additional groups have par t participated in this. the cato foundation and the big think tanks at the state level played a role. and the think tanks that organized public events or testimony pioneer events is the most active. we made it a badge of honor to not take any money from any explicit anti-common core donor. the book today was founded by a foundation that was in support of pro-common core organizations. what they wanted, and what we applied for in terms of funding, was we wanted a fact-based, if you will, a less passionate, but more fact-based history and
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analysis of common core across three dimensions. one is the quality and many states had better standards. our rise from the middle of the pack to having the best performing students on the national assessment for education progress and i would
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say we have spent $200,000 on this. i would urge anyone to look at the gates foundation. they do good stuff, too. it is not like -- but it is well into the hundreds of millions. if anybody is watching, pioneer is a good investment. >> i would add that the think tanks that have been against common core haven't had like special projects on common core. it has been really part of their regular budget and activities. so the pro-common core is multiple times putting more money into it. it is a failing project for them. and the anti-common core people have just done it as part of a regular course of their public policy. >> and let me add something, too.
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sandy and i as have been mentioned have gone all over the country and talked to families, and teachers, even state legislatures about the issues with common core. and of course, we have a unique perspective and can do this with some authority. but every single time we have come into a state it has been the parents who have funded our trips. they have to scrounge dollars and. we took no money because it wasn't there. for every thing that is in the -- you know, for every video, not one of these did he take a penny. and i would have loved to be
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able to charge sanders' fees. but they had no money for that. the only thing we consistently got was they paid for our travels. thought was it. >> i am jake from the washington examiner. i want to get deeper into the issue of the biggest issue with common core is common and it treats every student the same and that they don't have to learn at the same pace.
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>> test were involved at the beginning of the year and not just the end of the year and the original plan the government funded included that. but at this point that hasn't emerged. it is not that the law says you must buy an aprentice hall book. but saying you have to teach triangles through ridged motion you are excluding the hold textbook that caught the side angle thing you vaguely remember from your own experience. it is prescripted and
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exclusionary. it doesn't say exactly what time the bell rings in the school or when there is going to be recess. so i don't want to overstate what it is. but it is more uniformity than we have previously seen in the history of american education. >> there isn't much that is totally prescripted in there. but one thing that is scary prescriptive is there should not be in mathematics acceleration. they explicitly don't want a second track for kids interested in technical areas. they say that. this is actually in the standards.
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the courses they list are the course as they want. it may not be true in english, but it is true in math. there is no acceleration. there is specifically no room for a second or advanced track. >> any other questions? >> if not, i want to thank all of you for coming. and just building on the final statement. we are strong believers this country needs a lot of acceleration in education and the way to get there is not common core. it is a great read. if you want to know the facts on common core, dig deep in the quality and legal arguments and cost, this is the book for you. thank you very much for being here. [applause]
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