Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bad Faith

As President Franklin D.Roosevelt understood, the practice of self-government is a covenant among free men and women to respect the rights and liberties of their fellows. By that means, citizens may agree, disagree, and compromise. You win some. You lose some. All that is required is good faith. Good faith springs from the will of civilized people to respect others.

As H-Ls editorial board correctly suggests, the duplicitous actions of some legislative leaders has tended to undermine the ability of government to function at its most basic level . The ability to debate, compromise, and govern effectively is lost when wasteful knee-jerk reactions to partisan politics undercut that trust.

Proposing solutions to our schools' curriculum and testing issues without the intention of supporting the proposed change violates basic standards of honesty. It is bad faith. Democracy's implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is breached by such acts of bad faith, and makes us weaker as a state, and less able to address future problems.

This from the Herald-Leader:

Abandoning new standards would hurt Ky. schools

Katie Stein
The Republican lawmakers who are trying to force Kentucky's public schools to abandon the Common Core Standards could use a refresher course in recent history.

The standards were ushered in by one of the Republican Senate's proudest accomplishments, Senate Bill 1 in 2009.

Two of the Republicans who are trying to torpedo the standards in this session — Senate President Pro Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate, and Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown — were sponsors of the 2009 bill that paved the way for Kentucky to become the first to adopt the Common Core.

Damon Thayer
In her last campaign, Stine touted her co-sponsorship of SB 1 in 2009 as evidence of what she called her "Proven History of Leadership and Service."

So what happened?

President Barack Obama embraced the standards after they were initiated through a bipartisan effort of the National Governors Association and state education commissioners. Education Secretary Arne Duncan used federal education grants to incentivize — some would say pressure — states to adopt the standards.

Once the Democratic president was for the standards, some Republicans just reflexively turned against them.

In 2009, one of the main things Stine and other Senate Republicans wanted from SB 1 was a way to directly compare student achievement in Kentucky with that of other states — a sensible goal if we want Kentucky graduates to be competitive and schools to be accountable.

Such comparisons are impossible, though, when every state has different standards and when what's considered academically proficient in one state would be graded deficient in another.

Putting some standardization into the standards was one of the goals behind development of the Common Core, which has been praised and maligned by various interests up and down the political spectrum.

No one will ever come up with learning standards that please everyone. Robust debate on what schools should be teaching is a good thing.

But upending the curriculum, just three years after starting a new statewide testing and accountability system, would be lunacy. That, however, is just what Senate Bill 224 would do, imposing needless disruption on Kentucky's teachers, students and parents who have worked hard to bring on line the system the legislature mandated.

The cost of a replacement system would be $35 million, according to Education Commissioner Terry Holliday — money the state does not have and, which even if it did, would be a huge waste especially when Kentucky schools have gone for years without money to even replace textbooks.
If the new system fails to protect the privacy of student data, as some say, the state should fix that.
But SB 224 would just undermine Kentucky's public schools.

And this from the Courier Journal:

A Backward Bill
With the current legislative session more than halfway over, perhaps the most Kentucky can hope for is it to end with no further damage.

But some lawmakers appear ready to sacrifice the quality of instruction in Kentucky’s public schools, possibly hoping for political gain for themselves or their party — at a time when education experts are stressing the urgency of upgrading public education, especially in the areas of science and mathematics.

Today in Frankfort, the Senate Education Committee plans to take up a last-minute bill to abolish new, more rigorous education standards, developed after years of planning, and force the state to start over with standards more to the liking of some members of the legislature.

And that would include legislators who prefer creationism over evolution, because of religious beliefs, and don’t particularly care for the well-established science of climate change, because it makes burning coal at power plants appear problematic.

Senate Bill 224, filed March 6 — the last day to file new Senate bills — is aimed squarely at the state’s Core Academic Standards, based on the national Common Core standards, as well as the new Next Generation Science Standards.

The standards have drawn widespread support from professional educators and scientists including Lee Todd, the well-respected former president of the University of Kentucky who has told legislators they have no time to waste in upgrading public education to get more students ready for college and careers.

Yesterday, three Kentucky high school students wrote about the need for the standards in an opinion piece for The Courier-Journal.
In 2010, Kentucky became the first of 45 states to adopt the Common Core standards, which create a more rigorous, basic framework local school district use to establish curriculum that apply to English, mathematics and language arts. The Next Generation Science Standards were adopted last year by the state Board of Education to use in upgrading science instruction in public schools.

But some members of the legislature have been increasingly critical of those standards, emboldened by a small but noisy group of critics who have attacked them with claims ranging from false to bizarre. At public hearings opponents have:
• Falsely claimed Common Core, a completely voluntary, state-led initiative is somehow a “federal takeover” of education.
• Bitterly objected to the fact that science standards will not add creationism, the religious belief that God or another supreme being created the world.
• Wrongly complained that students are being denied the right to worship God by being taught evolution, the well-established science of development of life on earth.
Apparently swayed by such claims, a panel of lawmakers voted last year to reject regulations to enact the science standards. Gov. Steve Beshear ordered them enacted anyway through executive order.
Sponsors of SB 224 — Republican senators John Schickel, Katie Stine, Paul Hornback and Damon Thayer — would block those standards as well as abolish the Common Core standards.

Today’s hearing is supposed to be for discussion only. Legislators could better serve the state by killing this bill and putting out accurate information about the new standards and why Kentucky needs them.

Read more here:

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

Do you really think this lesson in "history" is accurate?

Basically, you say that the Republicans issued in the new standards in 2009, but once they were embraced by our first president, they turned against them!

Richard Day said...

Well, the players change over time and space...some in state...some national, but yes...the common curriculum idea came from conservatives/Republicans, was championed by Republican governors and a few foundations...and focused on assuring that student performance data would be meaningful from state. At the time Louisiana, for example, had about the lowest reading performance on the NAEP but had lowered their definition of "proficient" on their state tests to a point where they could claim more proficient readers and were competing with Massachusetts for top honors. It was ridiculous. They argued that "4th grade reading level" ought to mean the same thing in LA as MA - and they were right. States were gaming the NCLB standards all over the place. Ky was criticized for (allegedly) lowering standards too.

The governors picked up the ball (led by Rep. Gov Hunt and a few others) the Gov's Assn on a big embrace from a few big foundations...pushed the agenda to the Chief State Schools officers and went to work. A national efforts with lots of Rs and Ds involved, and lots of foundation money, pulled together a set of curriculum standards.

In Ky, Reps sponsored SB1 in an effort to kill the CATS test but expanded the bill to cover curriculum standards too. Curriculum and testing are inseparable, if tests are going to mean anything. Dems got on board too. KDE took the law, joined CCSS, and ran with it.

In the meantime, Obama, apparently thinking that CCSS was a good thing, made it a part of RTTT. And CCSS was instantly politicized.

In April 2010 the Republican National Committee jumped ship, I assume, for political reasons. Chuck Grassley, who spoke for the group, said Obama's intervention made CCSS "federal," rather than a voluntary "national" effort among states, and that made CCSS a bad idea.

Opposition to CCSS from the right is based on a rejection of federal control. Opposition to CCSS from the left focuses on a broader set of concerns with the corporate education reform movement at large.

But the fact remains. Republicans generally, and Thayer and Stine specifically, passed SB1 only to end up opposing it.

Richard Day said...

Here's a partial verification of what I'm saying from today's news:

Richard Day said...

Oops...The RNC shift was April 2012. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Day,

With respect, I think you are missing some things. So are the Herald-Leader and the Courier.

First, here’s an important point that a host of people are getting wrong. The Feds didn’t really hijack CCSS. The National Governors Association and every governor who signed on to Common Core invited the Feds in from the very start, BEFORE RttT came along.

Check the last bullet paragraph in this 2009 document titled “Federal Role.”

Next, do you have any idea where Terry Holliday came up with the rather interesting $35 million cost estimate to replace CCSS? Did the state ever spend anything close to that with the earlier efforts under KIRIS and CATS? You are good at researching this kind of stuff, and I wonder if you stopped to consider is this is more than an off-the-wall scare tactic.

Finally, may I suggest a close reread SB-1? The bill definitely mentions including the needs of more advanced students. That creates a problem because CCSS and NGSS cut off after the 10th grade, at least for more advanced students’ needs. So, CCSS/NGSS simply might not comply with SB-1.

Far from a retreat from SB-1, perhaps Sen. Stine and others are trying to defend the real intent in the bill by demanding a program that actually complies with the legislation’s requirements. However, how does Kentucky fix CCSS and NGSS when the copyrights to both are held by private Washington, DC organizations totally beyond our state’s control? What if our teachers see the need for changes, which I hear is starting to happen? How do we do that if we are locked into CCSS and NGSS?

Do you know what Sen. Stine actually said in Thursday’s Senate Education Meeting? Maybe that would shed more light.

In any event, the Dems are not all right and the Republicans all wrong on this issue by a wide margin. There are real problems with CCSS and NGSS, something neither the Courier nor the Herald-Leader seem to want to really recognize. For sure, denying problems with CCSS/NGSS won’t help our students, and it probably will do a disservice to teachers, as well.

Richard Day said...


As usual, the states wanted federal money so that they didn't have to raise state taxes. That's business as usual.

If you are suggesting that the states may have tried to thread the needle with their national initiative on federal (and foundation) money, I'd have to agree.

I read something on the $35 million form KDE a while back but I don't recall the particulars. It is the sum of everything they could count regarding KDEs contributions to the effort - development, implementation, training, testing... At the time, I remember thinking that they left out NGSS and that the total was probably higher.

I don't know how the money spent on KIRIS compares to this effort - in today's dollars. Regardless, there is no need to test all students every year and states should consider reducing the overall load by testing less.

I think CCSS complies with SB1. In fact, I believe CCSS is precisely what the legislators envisioned (or were sold) - it was the only internationally benchmarked curriculum effort going on at the time. Curriculum standards and what is taught to students are not the same thing and I am not concerned that our brightest and best were held back to any degree by them.

Are you really suggesting that Stine's real intent is to save CCSS? - to make it better? I seriously doubt that Damron and Stine's calculations go much beyond their current political (read, anti-Obama) calculus. If something was said Thursday that we need to hear, please identify yourself, and report it.

You are quite correct to suggest that it's not a clear case of Rs and Ds. Partisan education policy in America has been fractured since NCLB. There are pros and cons on both sides. You can't tell the players without a program.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to understand how legislators who enacted SB-1 in March 2009 could really envision CCSS when the CCSS effort didn't really start until April 2009 according to a timeline now available in the revamped CCSS own web site.

That Timeline item reads:

"April 2009

NGA and CCSSO convene governors’ education policy advisors and chief state school officers in Chicago to discuss creation of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. As a result, NGA and CCSSO invite states to commit to a process to develop common standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Based on the interest from states, work to develop the standards commenced."

If this timeline is correct, there wasn't a real commitment to create CCSS until after SB-1 was already signed.

Richard Day said...

Really? The envisioning was well under way.

I see your point, but you are leaving out all of the talk, planning, and organization that was going on in advance of the April meeting, a quick month later. Folks knew this was coming and the sentiment to join in was becoming solidified.

There may not have been a "real" or official commitment yet, but it is the path Kentucky followed and they had every reason to believe that many other states would be right there with them.

Anonymous said...

Achieve had been around for a decade, but not much had happened. This was not a sure thing.

Anyway, have you ever canvassed legislators who voted for SB-1 in 2009 to find out how many even knew about the NGA/CCSSO effort? I would not be surprised if few did.

In fact, I wonder if the effort was ever mentioned during the discussion of the bill. Maybe you have some research on that.