Tag Archives: Common Core State Standards



Longtime investigative reporter and current Fox News host, John Stossel, has a great website that teachers should be aware of. It is called, Stossel in the Classroom and offers materials for teachers that have been put together by the Center for Independent Thought.

Teachers can order one free DVD from the website every year. The current DVD for 2014 is available. For a direct link please click here. The DVD contains many of Stossel’s reports and classroom resources for lesson planning. According to Stossel’s site, there are 150,000+ teachers who have ordered a DVD. To me, that’s incredibly encouraging.

In addition to the DVDs, there are numerous videos on the site on various topics. Each video comes with a few discussion questions. According to the website there are new videos added every month.

Another neat feature of the site is the Standards Alignment Tool. You can search and find videos that match your state’s standards. And yes, the videos are correlated to the Common Core Standards in some cases. I think this is good. The reality is that teachers in the trenches are still being asked to teach the standards. It’s nice to see some materials from a source such as Stossel that could be brought into the classroom and tied directly to the Common Core.

You might also want to check out Stossel’s most recent release, The Power of Markets. This “is an 80-minute DVD that includes 16 video clips (2-8 minutes each) from John Stossel’s most recent shows. The clips focus on microeconomic concepts. The entire set compares and contrasts resource allocation based on market decisions with the actual effects of regulation and limitations to market decisions. While much regulation and market interference might be made with good intentions, the actual outcomes should be used to determine the merits of that regulation. This DVD program will enhance your coverage of basic concepts and empower your students to think more critically.” The DVD is available for $19.95.

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National Teacher Survey Demonstrates Growing Support for Education Reforms

I have mentioned previously that I am a huge fan of the Association of American Educators. I am also a dues paying member. If you are a conservative in education, I believe you should be a member of this organization even if you are forced to pay union dues. The AAE conducts an annual survey of its members, and unlike the unions, it actually listens to it’s member survey. This has been sitting in my inbox for sometime. It was originally posted on the AAE website last month.


Alexandria, VA – Today the Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest national non-union educators’ organization, released its 2014 Membership Survey about high-profile education and labor policies. Survey results show progressive stances toward education and labor reform, particularly with regard to education spending, school choice, technology, safety in schools, Common Core State Standards, and collective bargaining.

With policymakers considering new ideas in education across the country, it’s critical that educators’ opinions and experiences are taken into account as these reforms are debated and implemented. As a member-driven organization, AAE brings an authentic teacher voice to the education reform dialogue, providing invaluable input from professional educators across the country.

“AAE takes policy positions directly from member feedback,” stated AAE Executive Director Gary Beckner. “The opinions expressed in this survey are those of real educators, not bureaucrats or union leaders with partisan political agendas.”

With regard to proposed ballot initiatives designed to increase education spending via tax increases, AAE members stress fiscal responsibility:

  • 63% of survey respondents do not support the failed Colorado amendment that would have increased income taxes to raise nearly $1 billion for public schools.

While the education establishment sees school choice as a threat to their unionized monopoly, AAE teachers support certain laws that advance school choice and promote options for both teachers and students:

  • 82% of members support public school open enrollment.
  • 59% of teachers agree with Wisconsin’s Parental Choice Program, allowing low-income students public funds to attend a school of their choice.
  • 72% of AAE members support Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs), which enable students to leave their assigned public schools, taking 90% of the state dollars with them. That money, deposited into ESAs, can then be used to access a multitude of education options that better meet their children’s needs.

As new technologies make flexibility a reality for all stakeholders, states across the country are implementing policies that offer and encourage online learning. AAE members embrace new technologies as a means to better prepare students for the 21st century:

  • 93% of AAE members incorporate technology in their daily lessons.
  • 65% of teachers would support a blended learning environment where students spend part of their day with a teacher and part of their day on a computer.

In the wake of several tragic school shootings, teachers are vocal about school safety measures:

  • While 75% of surveyed members feel safe in their school, teachers report increased safety procedures in their buildings.
  • 61% of AAE members support a proposed policy in Arkansas that would allow educators access to a locked concealed firearm after a training course.

Experts continue to debate the value of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Support for the standards has declined in 2014 with AAE members split on the initiative:

  • 51% of survey respondents have an unfavorable opinion of CCSS.
  • 30% of teachers believe the Common Core will make the U.S. more competitive on a global scale. 47% of teachers believe they would have no effect, and 22% assert that CCSS would have an adverse effect.

Collective bargaining and labor reforms are also considered by AAE member teachers:

  • 64% of those surveyed would prefer to negotiate their own contract so that they can negotiate a salary and benefits package that best suits their lifestyle.

“We are proud to represent educators who are thoughtfully considering education reforms,” stressed Beckner. “We hope these findings will be a useful tool for policymakers and administrators on all levels.

Complete results of the survey can be found at www.aaeteachers.org/natsurvey.

The Association of American Educators (AAE) is the largest national, non-union, professional educator’s organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda. AAE members are forward-thinking professionals who are committed to student-centered reform efforts including school/teacher choice, accountability and technology. AAE has members in all 50 states and welcomes professionals from all education entities. Membership is $15 per month which includes $2 million professional liability insurance, employment rights coverage, professional development resources as well as a host of other benefits. Visit aaeteachers.org for further information.

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BOOK REVIEW: The New School by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

TheNewSchoolRating: 4/5 Stars

Suggested Audience: High school students who are contemplating college and feel that something is wrong, parents of high school students who are contemplating college and feel that something is wrong, every person in America that is concerned about education.

I recently won a copy of The New School on Twitter from TheBlaze Books (and, by the way, if you are a reader, you are truly missing out if you are not following what they are doing).

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee. You can check out his blog over at InstaPundit.com.

Reynolds’ basic premise in this book is that American education system, both the K-12 public system and college, is due for a revolution brought on by both market forces and improving technologies. One of the things I really like about this book is that it’s short and concise, yet quite profound in the point it is making.

The book is split up into five chapters. Reynolds’ starts off with a brief history of education in America. Basically, we imported a 19th century Prussian education model. For many years, this system worked quite well for America, but its usefulness is starting to wain.

I definitely agree with that point of view. As someone who has two traditional university degrees and works inside of the belly of the K-12 beast, I am starting to see large indicators that the old model needs to change.

In the second chapter, Reynolds takes a look at higher education. His overarching argument is that college is a “bursting bubble.”  I was impressed with his honest assessment of the system that he works inside of and agreed with many of his conclusions.

I thought this chapter was quite refreshing. Finally, someone is saying something that I keep thinking. College is overpriced and overvalued, and all we do as a society is continue to tell all students that it is worth their time and money. Sadly, college is often purchased with significant chunks of future time and money in the form of debt payments. I am a big Dave Ramsey fan. He often jokes that we tell kids that if they want to go get a BA in German polka dancing history, or some equally worthless degree, it is okay because college debt is “good debt.”


As Reynolds points out, American student loan debt has surpassed the trillion-dollar mark. The number of student-loan debtors actually equals the number of people with college degrees. This is a big problem (and a gigantic debt bubble), and it worries me that it is going to have a negative impact on the economy as a whole.

So what happens when the bubble bursts? According to Reynolds, administrators will first do what administrators do best, deny and try to protect the status quo. (I was especially taken aback at the discussion of how administrator laden many colleges are in this country. Nationally, administrators are coming to outnumber faculty!) Administrators will try to create more revenue by raising tuition, but eventually there will be market forces that cause things to move in the other direction. Expect colleges to begin discounting tuition, and once that begins, expect destruction to begin. Reynolds anticipates a race to the bottom. Some colleges will be forced to close their doors, but overall, you should see cheaper college rates as the system begins to normalize.

What to do? First, and I couldn’t agree more, don’t go into debt for college. If you are still going to go to college, consider lower cost colleges. You may want to even reconsider the whole idea of attending college. Apprenticeships may be a viable alternative. He gives evidence that there may be a growing trend here.

With regards to reform of the college system itself, Reynolds encourages universities to not go on spending binges. Colleges have to think about curriculum and delivery reform (i.e. better use of web based classes). He also thinks colleges need to raise their level of rigor. Another thought, and one that I thought was a great idea, encourage budget transparency of both public and private universities. I’d love to see the books ripped open in my state colleges for all to see. One other intriguing suggestion was to make college loans bankruptable after 10 years and make the institutions that got the loan money responsible for a small percentage of the loss. As Reynolds states, our current system puts all the risks of the loans on the student and taxpayer. That is not right, and I agree it should change.

Finally, Reynolds closes the chapter with a look at the politics of the issue. He also takes a look at some future scenarios of how this all plays out. The common thread that runs through them is that higher education will not be as well off as it has been in the past.

The next chapter of the book focused on lower education in America. I was not as impressed with this part of the book. I found Reynolds’ research lacking. When I say this, I’m not saying Reynolds is completely wrong. As mentioned above, I am a public educator, and I can see it from inside the system. The traditional K-12 system has to change to become better, but I’m not sure there is enough political pressure to get it to change.

Politically and culturally the traditional model of K-12 education is entrenched in this society. Survey research conducted by Gallup has shown for some time now (and see this) that Americans view something wrong with the K-12 system as a whole, but when asked about their school system they often respond with more favorable results. Ask them about their child’s school and they are even happier.

I’m not confident that there is enough parents that actually want the K-12 system to change. I about fell out of my seat with this statement, “with changing societal attitudes toward parenting, many of today’s parents are more involved and interested in their kid’s education.”

Ummm….uhhhhh….yeah, right….come spend a couple weeks with me in my classroom. I have been in a couple different districts in my short tenure in public schools. Parents are so not involved it’s startling at times. If anything, the movement in this country among the mass populace is towards less involvement in their child’s life. Those parents that are involved tend to do what Reynolds’ acknowledges, vote with their feet. Of course, that just usually just involves moving to another school district they like more.

I am hopeful that the political chaos that Common Core is causing may be a catalyst for change. I also think that the implosion of the Code Red monetary policies in the next 5-10 years may force some reform as well. When money starts to get tight again, many public districts are going to be up a creek without a paddle.

Despite my qualms with his chapter on K-12, this is an excellent book and well worth the read. It’s a discussion more people need to be having. If you have an interest in education, I think this book is a must-read for you.



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Filed under Book Reviews, College Education, Economics, Education Reform

Building the Machine, Upcoming #CommonCore Documentary Movie


An investigative documentary into the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Featuring nationally renowned experts in education including, E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Sandra Stotsky, Jim Milgram, and many more.

(h/t Common Core: Education Without Representation)

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core), Videos


This is a guest post from Karen Schroeder, President of Advocates for Academic Freedom.

Corporations buying into the federal healthcare data system using huge profits made from creating federal tests aligned with Common Core are destroying opportunities for ADHD kids.

The fears of many parents of ADHD kids will likely come true. Their child’s opportunities will be limited by an inanimate object created by a corporation that the parent cannot hold accountable.

Currently, American kids can be kids. Students who struggle can have bright futures when families and educators allow second chances for them.  Inanimate testing machines consider only programmed data and are incapable of identifying which ADHD student may have creative potential.

The first U.S. created tool for the objective measurement of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is The Quotient ADHD Test, now owned by Pearson, an international testing company. ADHD is a medical diagnosis. Pediatric neurologists and psychiatrists test children before making the diagnosis. A child’s hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention are measured to identify an ADHD student.

According to Pearson, ADHD symptoms persist into adulthood for 60 % of the cases making it difficult for the patient to “control behavior and may have serious consequences, including failure in school, family stress and disruption, depression, problems with relationships, substance abuse, delinquency, risk for accidental injuries and job failure.” This definition ignores the fact that successful innovators, artists, and creative people often deal with dyslexia, ADHD, and many other alphabet labels. Students at every IQ level can be affected by ADHD.

One of Pearson’s many subsidiaries is Pearson PLC, a British-based media company, which will receive additional federal dollars to develop a new GED test that is aligned with Common Core State Standards. Educators, parents, and students are promised that the test will better prepare students for college and careers.

However, the American Council on Education will offer a “transition network that connects GED test takers to career and postsecondary educational opportunities.” Molly Corbett Broad, president of the ACE, explained that personal counseling to assist in the decision to pursue higher education or to go directly into a job will be provided by school officials. This will minimize any influence parents may have on a child and on the expectations they are allowed to have for him.

Pearson’s have invested in political campaigns and gained federal and international involvement in the medical tests provided for our children. Will parents and children be free to refuse taking federally aligned tests? Will the data collected be protected?

If the problems with the National Security Agency and the Internal Revenue Service represent our government’s ability to protect privacy, every citizen should be concerned for the future of these kids. All medical information will be under government control through Obamacare.

According to Pearson’s press release, the purchase of most of the assets of the BioBehavioral Diagnostics Company (BioBDx) which creates the ADHD test “marks a strategic entry into healthcare markets for Pearson, the world leader in clinical and educational assessment for learners.”

The federal government is providing many of the dollars Pearson needed to purchase the tests and the access to student data through the health care markets.

According to the Brookings Institute and others, the states’ cost for testing is expected to increase by 85% and Pearson is contracted to provide 39% of the testing tools available.

When internationally accumulated data follows a student throughout his career, will that student be allowed to fulfill his work, educational, and personal goals? Will surrendering responsibility for testing to the federal government and international companies limit America’s most creative, innovative students by a stereo-typical label?

We must protect a student’s privacy, his right to mature at his own pace, and his right to a second chance. That happens most easily when the federal government is OUT of education and citizens monitor who creates the tests, who collects the data, and how that data is used. Parents have a right to monitor testing and data collection by implementing local control of schools.

Karen Schroeder is President of Advocates for Academic Freedom, a member of the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board, an experienced public school teacher, and an educational consultant. Karen can be reached at kpfschroeder@centurylink.net or by calling715-234-5072.

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Filed under National Standards (Common Core)