<b>STUDENT BECOMES TEACHER:</b>  In Kevin O’Sullivan’s science class at Cleveland Elementary School, students educate each other about plate tectonics by projecting from their iPads.

Paul Wellman

STUDENT BECOMES TEACHER: In Kevin O’Sullivan’s science class at Cleveland Elementary School, students educate each other about plate tectonics by projecting from their iPads.

An Idiot’s Guide to the Common Core

California Schools Adopt New Standards

Thursday, August 15, 2013
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This school year, teachers will begin to implement the most significant changes to classroom instruction since California first adopted standards in 1998. Along with 45 other states, three territories, and Washington, D.C., the Golden State is betting its kids’ futures on new guidelines called the Common Core State Standards. This new touchstone is largely the result of pressure from the federal government, which told states they would be ineligible for Race to the Top funds if they did not adopt internationally vetted standards. (Ironically, California will not be eligible in the near future anyway because both the governor and the California Teachers Association refuse to adopt statewide teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores.)

Common Core does not dictate curricula, but it sets goals for K-12 classrooms that emphasize depth over breadth. The new standards are supposed to be fully implemented by 2015, but that means teachers have to start adapting now, by running pilot programs and experimenting with new lesson plans throughout this school year. Leading the charge are people like longtime La Cumbre Junior High math teacher Janet Hollister, who is now a “teacher on special assignment,” responsible for preparing her colleagues for the changes to come. The Santa Barbara Independent interviewed her and other South Coast educators in a quest to figure out what Common Core means in the most concrete terms.

By Paul Wellman

‘Students are going to have to think about multiple ways to solve a problem and think about how to explain how to solve a problem and think about somebody else’s point of view.’ — Janet Hollister (pictured), teacher on special assignment

How It Works

Common Core is the culmination of work done by two nationwide groups, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which were tasked with evaluating why American schoolkids were falling behind on global education benchmarks as well as college- and career-readiness. They found that teachers were racing through textbooks and checking off boxes without pausing to gauge the intellectual growth of their students, so Common Core aims to correct that by requiring fewer topics but allowing students to think more deeply. It also makes the teacher less of an authority figure in the classroom, forcing students to spend more time figuring things out themselves.

To an outsider, that may make a Common Core classroom look “chaotic,” admitted Natalie Ireland, another teacher on special assignment who, until now, worked at Franklin Elementary. With the new standards, kids will be leading the inquiry and working collaboratively on projects ​— ​not sitting quietly at their desks listening to a teacher lecture at the front of the room. But Ireland is excited about it, explaining, “I think school will be fun again.”

At first, Common Core will affect math and English, but new science standards are in the pipeline, as well. In English, students can expect to see a greater ratio of nonfiction to literary texts, said former San Marcos High School teacher and current UCSB professor Tim Dewar, but that doesn’t mean literature will go by the wayside. Literary texts may be read in conjunction with historical documents, for instance, and there will be more emphasis on students reading and writing in other subjects. “If the only place students are reading and writing is in English,” said Dewar, “then we are screwed.”

In high school math, traditional subjects like algebra, geometry, and trigonometry will be more integrated to emphasize their connections, and more statistics will be required as it is deemed more useful in the working world. Santa Barbara district teachers even favor abolishing the traditional ordering and naming of math courses to replace them simply with Math 1, 2, and 3, a change that will be voted on soon.

Altogether, Common Core proponents hope to foster real-world problem-solving skills. “How many people in their forties are still factoring polynomials?” asked Chris Ograin, a math and education professor at UCSB. “We want to have people who, when they encounter a problem in the workplace or wherever, can engage with that problem.” So in the classroom, students will be asked to struggle more to find solutions, a process that requires a healthy dose of metacognition.

By Paul Wellman

Why It Works

A fancy way of saying “thinking about thinking,” metacognition is what happens when students are asked not just for the right answers but how they got to those answers. Vieja Valley teacher Allison Heiduk, also a Common Core fan, explained that currently, when instructors teach texts, they focus on comprehension. Previously, while teaching a book called Frindle, she might have asked her kids, “What did Nick do to transform the classroom into a tropical setting?” Under the new standards, she might instead ask, “What do you think Nick’s motives are? To cause trouble? Is there an educational reason? What is your evidence?” The goal is to always drive students back to the text and encourage them to formulate evidence-based reasoning ​— ​in short, a bit more “why” instead of just “what.”

The hope is for better communication skills in all subjects. “Students are going to have to think about multiple ways to solve a problem,” said Hollister of La Cumbre, “and think about how to explain how to solve a problem and think about somebody else’s point of view.” The process of finding an answer and defending that answer should be just as important as the answer itself.

Students who excel under the current system may be most frustrated with the Common Core, said several teachers, explaining that those who are good at following directions, finishing work quickly, and finding right answers will be forced to consider other answers and to articulate their thought process. But Common Core will encourage critical thinking, which is important to teachers like Ireland because currently, she said, “We are graduating kids who aren’t good problem solvers.”

By Paul Wellman

Promise of Perserverance

A key trait of good problem-solving is perseverance. As it is, teachers, especially in math, focus on process. They often show students the steps ​— ​via a blackboard or projector ​— ​to solving a particular type of problem. Common Core lesson plans will ask students to formulate the steps themselves.

Here’s an example of a lesson plan from Carla Abatie, a math specialist who works for UCSB’s education program: Students are told that they receive a cardboard crate of oranges stacked in two layers of 12 like this: 2 × 2 × 6. They are asked if they can arrange the oranges in a configuration that will use less material, which forces them to explore concepts like volume, surface area, and factoring. What they should figure out is that the closer to a cube they get, the more efficient the shipment. That’s the answer, but it’s something the teacher never tells them.

Along with struggle and perseverance, Common Core adds rigor. For years, Ireland has taught a book called Yellow Star, about the Holocaust, to her 4th graders, reading the book out loud and leading her students through the plot. After being trained in an instructional method called Lemaster (after its inventor), she assigned her students articles about the Holocaust for context and asked them to take their own two-column notes. Now, to meet the Common Core expectations, she might have them choose their own research topics, find secondary research materials on their own, and then create PowerPoint slideshows to present to the class. Yes, for 4th graders.

Minding  the  Gap

Decried as a federal takeover of education by detractors who complain the standards weren’t fully vetted and worry that the transition is happening too quickly, Common Core is not heavily criticized on its merits. But there are some real concerns, one having to do specifically with the rigor of the new standards and who will struggle most with them.

Right now, poor minority children fare far worse in school than kids from white middle- and upper-class backgrounds. Class-based achievement gaps exist in most countries, but the U.S. is the most stratified. In fact, a recent Stanford study that analyzed the oft-cited international ranking of industrialized nations in which the U.S. came in 14th in reading and 25th in math found that the U.S. reported a higher percentage of poor and ill-educated children than its peer nations. Adjusted accordingly, the study showed, the U.S. would actually rank fifth in reading and 10th in math.

Some worry that Common Core may actually increase this gap, reinforcing the advantages of the haves while exacerbating the challenges to the have-nots. Santa Barbara teachers are sensitive to the issue, especially for putting more reading and writing tasks upon English-language learners, but they remain bullish on the new standards. Hollister thinks Common Core may actually help shrink the gap. “When we start racing through texts, that’s when parents hire tutors,” she said. “Then you have a socioeconomic gap opening up.”

By Paul Wellman

Testing to Come

While teachers relish standards that let them dive deep into their subjects, Common Core also demands concrete results via enhanced standardized testing. With testing comes stakes ​— ​for school reputations, for funding, maybe even one day for teacher evaluations ​— ​and if the early-adopter examples of New York and Kentucky are to be heeded, we can expect a precipitous drop in proficiency rates early on.

Parents have been asked to be patient during the transition, and California won’t institute new “Smarter Balanced Assessment” tests ​— ​which will be given to grades 3 to 8 and 11 ​— ​until the 2014-2015 school year. (This school year, students are expected to take the same old STAR exams, but the state applied for a waiver from the federal government, arguing that they are now pointless.) The new tests will be given on computers, which will use “adaptive technology” to increase or decrease the complexity of questions based on a student’s previous answer. The theory, also employed in the modern GRE taken by hopeful grad students, is that this method better tests what students know rather than what they don’t. (Try them for yourself at ​— ​they’re quite demanding!) But the new testing protocols also mean that schools will need to figure out how to get an electronic device in the hands of every single student.

Clearly, there is no shortage of challenges to be faced by California classrooms in the years to come. At a recent back-to-school meeting with the media, Santa Barbara schools superintendent David Cash admitted that teachers have an “uneven knowledge” of the new standards and explained that they will be cramming for the next couple of years. With the year’s first school bell about to ring, it looks like the learning curve of Common Core may be just as steep for teachers as it will be for students.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

"This new touchstone is largely the result of pressure from the federal government, which told states they would be ineligible for Race to the Top funds if they did not adopt internationally vetted standards. (Ironically, California will not be eligible in the near future anyway because both the governor and the California Teachers Association refuse to adopt statewide teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores.)", and the Point of the Program is WHAT?!

dou4now (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2013 at 6:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

A thoughtful summary of a HUGELY important subject that hopefully many parents will study. Go see these Common Core standards at
As a history teacher, I looked at the Writing/Literacy Standards for History, Social Science, Science, and Technical Writing. As one who has written his fair share of curricula, this section, pp. 79 - 83, is well-meaning but feels like pap. Absolutely no specifics, very little about history (I know, they're only standards!), lots about digital sources (important) and utilizing the internet. There is very little "history" there... way too bad.
I salute Gov. Brown and CTA for NOT accepting the Race to the Top's requirement that "enhanced standardized testing" include "statewide teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores." --this is a demonstrably bad idea.
While NY and Kentucky show lower scores with Common Core, that is likely to be expected. A deeper issue, as Fastman notes, is "poor minority children fare far worse in school than kids from white middle- and upper-class backgrounds," and Common Core cannot do too much about that. I keep reading that it is simply impoverished families whose children fare so badly on standardized tests: working on the savage economic inequalities in our country would be even more helpful than inventing new well-meaning curriculum standards, which is quite easy to do.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2013 at 5:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

'“How many people in their forties are still factoring polynomials?” asked Chris Ograin, a math and education professor at UCSB.'

Right! And how many still read poetry? Out with poetry! How many still read the classics? We need no stinkin' classics in the classroom! How many do chemistry experiments in their forties? Out with the labs!

An idiot guide indeed. An "education" professor, no less.

zwurman (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2013 at 9:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree awurman that Ograin's comment, perhaps taken out of context, seems odd. How many people in their forties are still studying lists of Presidents? or how many are still going over their Spanish verb conjugations. And these activities were ridiculous in the first place??
While it's positive, of course, that "students are asked not just for the right answers but how they got to those answers" [metacognition], I don't follow the Vieja Valley teacher's comment "that currently, when instructors teach texts, they focus on comprehension" -- doesn't "comprehension" precede "encourag[-ing] them to formulate evidence-based reasoning ​— ​in short, a bit more 'why' instead of just 'what' "??
OK, just focus on WHAT is pretty limiting but essential, no? And then fine teachers naturally DO move them on to a return to the text to dig deeper and figure out 'Why' stuff. Recursive curriculum stuff.
BTW, these standardized tests, which Calif happily rejects, would be very hard-pressed to evaluate "why" type answers, but the WHAT answers would be easier to rank by number.
A simpler solution: look to Finland for teacher training: they are more rigorously trained, have to work at their craft around 5 years, then get tenure and GOOD Money and benefits. Raise the status of teachers to the honor they get in places like Germany (I have taught there), Finland, Netherlands. We trash our public school teachers, pink slip them, jerk them around, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core... the old Calif State Standards Framework was a joke, too, they hadn't revised the History section for almost 15 years because they didn't know what to do. The minute they get detailed, the political and cultural wars start.
Now, as dou4now notes, we've jumped onto the Common Core curriculum bandwagon under federal pressure, but even if our kids DO perform well [absolutely unlikely, see NY and Ky Common Core results: low], Calif. won't qualify for the federal funds because at least we're smart enough not to include the standardized test score results in the teacher assessments. What a mess.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2013 at 9:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"How many people in their forties are still studying lists of Presidents? or how many are still going over their Spanish verb conjugations"

Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama.

Doubt and emotion make a verb subjunctive. Past subjunctive after "si", To Wit: "Si tuvieras que"...(if you had to) but never a subjunctive after "si" in the present indicative. But still there is much to learn of the mind discipline. Man muss gelehrt sein, nicht wahr?

All this from memory and I'm in my 50's.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 2:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

" ‘Students are going to have to think about multiple ways to solve a problem and think about how to explain how to solve a problem and think about somebody else’s point of view.’ — Janet Hollister (pictured), teacher on special assignment"

Wrong. What the photo caption should be is "Yes, the fish I caught was THIS big."

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 2:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe standardized tests aren't the way to go when measuring teacher performance, but pay for performance and elimination of the tenure system will go a long way to getting the bad teachers out of the system. Some standardized measures need to be used when assessing teacher performance.

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 7:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)

couldn't agree more, BC, and yet we can see Ograin's query -- yeah, what IS the use of factoring polynomials?? It isn't like remembering/reciting Wordsworth or retaining some important details [yes BC, I can do the Pres List from memory, & likely would forget 2 or 3 and mess up the order a bit] is stupid or useless... The factoring polynomials [I prefer the FOIL method, but know others] question is really loaded.
Take Presidential list with order and party and dates... in order to frame more significant questions don't you have to have some of this data embedded?? Incremental steps: 1]collecting information (involves comprehension) 2] developing knowledge (some of the Why stuff in the article: beyond comprehension) 3] beginnings of wisdom...
Yeah, it takes years, or so I read since I have no wisdom myself, and working on your mixed fractions and getting to the quadratic equation and on to calculus...and so on.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I can honestly say that I haven't diagramed a sentence since middle school. Nor have I analyzed the use of color in text. I haven't considered the g-forces exerted on my body while on a roller coaster nor have I given an iota's thought to the digestive systems of bugs. I haven't thought about what caused the civil war or about reconstruction. I could't tell you if Antietam happened before or after Harpers Ferry.

These are all things I had to study / do in school. I'm sure they served some purpose, but as my adult life and career aren't dependent on them, I no longer recall what purpose that knowledge served, how to perform the work, or even what it was that I was supposed to remember. Finding my keys is a much more important daily task in my adult life than considering the geo-political implications of the Marshall Plan.

When we teach children we're supposed to give them the foundational skills they need to do whatever it is they want with their lives, knowing full well that they will neither use nor recall much of it.

You may never factor a polynomial again after completing Algebra, much less remember what factoring a polynomial is, but the kid sitting next to you might do it all day long. I may no longer be able to tell you the difference between an adjective and an adverb or remember what a dangling participle is, but the kid sitting next to me who writes technical manuals may. I have zero interest in the digestive systems of fruit flies and the mere memory of touching millipedes is enough to turn my stomach 30+ years later, but my neighbor the entomologist gets all jazzed up about that.

We teach our children lots of stuff that will be utterly useless to them as adults. Haiku, anyone? Why is Math any different from any other subject?

If we don't teach our children the math they need to be scientists, engineers, architects, or designers, how can we expect any of our children to ever be scientists, engineers, architects, or designers?

KimSimons (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 9:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

helpful NYTimes article today 8/16 by Motoko Rich... fact: in NY State, which started up Common Core curriculum standards last year, the recent test scores have only 33% of the students passing the math/English CC tests. You can interpret this variously: it is certainly a GOOD that the tests are more difficult, and NY firmly raises the bar on acheivment. It's a blow, however, and terrifies some teachers and infuriates many parents. We will see this play out just like this here in SB. And Tea Party crazies in their paranoid anti-intellectual hate-government rants are already foaming at the mouth vs. Common Core.
Forgetting them, I believe teachers have a very legitimate beef at the gross lack of training they are getting to prepare their new lesson plans etc. to meet the challenge of Common Core. Students lose when teachers don't have time to prepare for a new gig. One study shows teachers in 30 states have begun some lessons based on CC standards, BUT only ten states reported that over 75% of teachers had had any CC training in the previous year. How unfair to the students and to the teachers!
A big question facing Cash here locally is really, how much training and preparation will our SBUSD teachers really get?? Will you pay teachers for giving up summer time for these trainings?? Yes, I see a couple of names above, like J. Hollister, a "teacher on special assignment", but how many of these are there? Why not tell us like it IS, Dave: HOW MANY HOURS OF LEGITIMATE TRAINING WILL OUR SBUSD TEACHERS RECEIVE BEFORE STARTING UP IN JUST A FEW WEEKS??
The Catch-22 is this: teachers get little time to really prep for CC, the teachers know the scores will drop a LOT at least in first year, AND the teachers' pay/advancement depends on these new CC tests! What a crock! We are fortunate, I now see, that Gov. Brown and CTA aren't doing this to our public school teachers, but those teachers rightly fear it is coming.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The bigger problem is that the schools--a reflection of our overall culture--don't produce people who can think critically.

Take a look at Santa Barbara: It's beautiful, the weather is near-perfect, but it's become an overpriced dystopia with a raging gang problem, a downtown that is known more for bratty drunks and mentally ill people living in its streets than a laid back hangout, and of course over crowding and frantic stressed out drivers who are frustrated and in a hurry. What happened?

Try to call a business and you get routed to a 1-800 number where you suffer through several minutes of "push this button" automated responses, and you are lucky if you get a human being, and even then, you are often put on hold and you are even luckier if the person on the other end actually knows about what is going on. It didn't used to be this way. What happened to the days where you could dial a number, get someone locally who was cross-trained to answer your question?...where you could actually get the boss and not an "associate" who is some kid just out of high school who barely knows what is going on? Today, it's about quick profit at the expense of long-term efficiency and the public schools are no exception.

The public schools have been contaminated by politics and social engineering. If we politely point out that it is in everyone's best interest that immigrant children (at least certain demographics that have been politicized) are linguistically assimilated into the language of this country, we are called racists by all the self-anointed gods and leaders who claim to be representing this kids even though a cursory look can see the damage that is happening as a result of these politically correct policies. Very few even dare to point out the vested and perverse financial incentives behind designating children as "English Learners" and why it works against these interests to get the kids up to speed and assimilated. The typical scripted response given to those of us who point out the fallacies of social engineering is that the issue is "very complex", which is code for "anyone outside the academic world is too simple-minded to have a valid opinion" on the matter-at-hand.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 3:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

maybe a lot of this is simply population growth, Bill?
Public schools have also been defunded, don't forget that. And watch out, Common Core promises to teach more critical thinking, and less emphasis on rote memorization etc. Hmmm.
I don't think the social engineering is valid, though some of it goes on, it always has!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 4:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If they follow through with less rote/test taking and more thinking, then good results will happen.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 16, 2013 at 5:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Pronouncements of positive change do not equate to actual positive change.
There is nothing new in the methodologies described here - strong teachers have always used these sorts of techniques and credential programs have always taught them. Used to be called "critical thinking" skills and "discovery learning."
As for the Common Core approach, twenty-plus years ago it was all the vogue except it was called "interdisciplinary curriculum."
It's all good, and when employed by strong instructors with students who value education it is effective and engaging.
But none of it is the magic elixir to revolutionize American education. The achievement gap between wealthy kids with highly educated parents and poor kids who don't speak English will not disappear. And the gap between test scores for schools in wealthy suburbs and those for inner city high crime areas will not go away. LIfe is not that simple... sometimes there are social and economic issues that transcend anything that teachers and schools can influence.
Some of the educator comments in the article are right on point ("If the only place students are reading and writing is in English then we are screwed.”) Still, they are truisms we have always known and are are not new concepts stemming from Common Core.
Other comments are fantastical nonsense: "those who are good at following directions, finishing work quickly, and finding right answers" might be frustrated by the new curriculum demands. Not so much; kids with those traits already have all the problem solving tools mastered and will continue to excel. But students who do not follow directions, don't finish work and do not find the right answers will continue to lag.

henryjk (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2013 at 9:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

agree henryjk, and I'm still energized by the "interdisciplinary curriculum" ideas and lesson plans. But yes, these are just "terms" and celebrating and going rah rah about CC may not change much. But I am also trying to be positive and hope that some of this translates into assistance for effective teachers, who yes have always been doing these things regardless of terminology.
This is very sad but absolutely true: "sometimes there are social and economic issues that transcend anything that teachers and schools can influence."

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 18, 2013 at 9:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I miss Ken Volok.

BongHit (anonymous profile)
August 18, 2013 at 12:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

so do I, KV shall return!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 18, 2013 at 12:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Send Ken a note letting him know you're thinking of him if you haven't already. I've been in contact with him and obviously he's having a rough time of it.

Ironically, this blogesphere was something I turned to about two days after my dad died, and it helped me. Of course, everyone deal with grief differently.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 18, 2013 at 8:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Library books and reading to your kids are both free. Reading to your kids is a responsibility of being a parent. Amazingly, some specific demographic groups don't use the library or read to their kids while other economically depressed groups do both and their kids excel in spite of being poor, going to lousy schools, and having lousy teachers.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 19, 2013 at 4:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I completely agree Italian, and always recommend this and we did it fervently with our own kid. However, it's very true that in certain cultures it is not a tradition, and schools have had much trouble inculcating this attitude. For one thing, what if one or both parents aren't very fluent in say, written German or Spanish or Hmong or...Italian... and they actually cannot "read to their kid(s)" in either the mother tongue OR English? It's an issue.
When you write "other economically depressed groups" these are simply heavy cultural differences, have to be acknowledged, and worked on, but progress will usually be generational, not in 5 or 10 years...
And not all public schools are lousy (we have several fines ones in our town), and not all teachers are lousy. When you unluckily get a lousy school with too many lousy teachers AND your parents don't/or/CAN'T read to you at home... you get poorly educated kids. Then as adults these people vote in the clowns we deal with today in politics.
Often affluent parents, who read very well, do not have time to do this extensive reading to the young children, they need that yoga class or some conference in Paris or...

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 19, 2013 at 12:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I was not inferring that all of the public schools in this town are poor. From what I can tell some are and some are not. But certain groups do well, even in poor schools around the country and the world, simply because their families demand it. Reading to your kid in English is irrelevant and you know it. Reading to them in whatever tongue you are literate in stimulates their brains to learn.
A lack of perfectly nourishing food is irrelevant. Kids all over the world learn on a cup of rice a day, or in my case a cup of pasta, because their families value education.
If what you are implying is that for the first time in this country we are taking in immigrants that are in majority illiterate AND do not value education then we have a completely different problem. A problem that few people want to be honest about. As much as I hate the politicians, we/they have spent billions of dollars on this problem and yet we are moving backwards. And the tired reality about a mafiosa style teachers union does not help. It pains me that teachers impugn themselves with their own collective bargaining unit.
In short:
We do not acknowledge the real problem;
We propose solutions to the wrong equation;
None of the stakeholders are willing to come up with new solutions, they only protect their turf;
Take the union out of the mix and teachers will do the right thing.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 19, 2013 at 1:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The immigration issue is knotty and endless, look at Congress all tied up! Italian, we agree on plenty here. We never had an immigration policy stating the immigrants have to value education, although of course I hope all of them do value it.
Cannot agree with "A lack of perfectly nourishing food is irrelevant" - simply overstated and untrue. I'm glad you managed it, but this is a bit unusual, no?
Of course the politicians do not acknowledge the real problem[s]. Look at drone killings, really makes me proud of my country.
I am critical of the union leadership in some cases.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 19, 2013 at 5:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We never needed an immigration policy that stated immigrants should value education; it was simply assumed. That assumption has been demonstrated to no longer be correct; but hey, it's uncomfortable so we'll keep creating work arounds and throwing feel-good money down the toilet...
Your nutrition inference does not add up. It's basic misuse of logic to state that most under performing academic kids are malnourished, therefore malnourishment causes poor academic performance. Unfortunately, poor nourishment is the rule and not the exception in vast portions of Asia and yet their academic performance outstrips our heavily supported illegal aliens. It is not anecdotal to recite a near endless list of Asian cultures and countries that have excelled in spite of having been devastated: China, Japan, South Korea, India, Philippines(I'll stop now to keep my fingers from getting fatigued).
Western Europe was abjectly impoverished and starving through most of the middle part of the 20th Century yet excelled and once the feudal system was disbanded, although social impediments remained in place, literacy levels soared. The English spent 200 years on planned genocide and starvation of the Irish and yet the Irish achieved 100% literacy.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
August 20, 2013 at 6:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Why I Oppose the Common Core State Standards

Common Core State Standards are the biggest proposed change to education in the United States in our lifetime, yet most people have never heard of them! The name is misleading because they are not “state standards” they are “federal standards.”

Common Core is a “one size fits none” way to deal with problems in education.

Below is just the summary, for full article with supporting links here,

1) The Math standards are a downgrade (they put us two years behind high achieving countries)
2) English language arts standards are fundamentally flawed: the reading standards are mediocre at best, the writing standards are an “intellectual impossibility” for the average middle grade student, there is less literature, inappropriate reading material, and no cursive (handwriting) at all
3) The science standards are mediocre at best, and some object to the way controversial subjects (evolution and global warming) are taught
4) Incredible cost to implement
5) The flawed process used to create Common Core (CC), combined with the fact that five of the 29 people on the validation committee would not sign off on the standards
6) Most states signed onto Common Core before seeing the final standards. The reasons federal funds, and No Child Left Behind waivers
7) Common Core has never been tested
8) Education experts oppose CC
9) Numerous problems with the high stakes testing
10) Private schools and home schooled students cannot “escape” CC
11) Five states did not adopt CC, of the 45 states that adopted CC there is considerable opposition in at least 20
12) CC may be illegal
13) The Republican National Convention Spring 2013, and numerous state Republican Committees, have adopted resolutions rejecting CC
14) There may be a political agenda
15) Collection, storage, and sharing of student data like never before in the United States
16) Political – left and right find common ground opposing CC

As people (including elected officials) become educated opposition to CC is growing.

Eppie (anonymous profile)
August 26, 2013 at 4:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr Cash admits that the teachers have "an uneven knowledge" of these standards, I think this is educationese for the fact that most SB teachers aren't ready for this. It's clear that with their money woes the District hasn't been able to do much to help teachers prepare for the unfair onslaught of Common Core standards. Add to this, 4 local schools are rolling out a hastily-proposed iPad program, and those teachers get to deal with oncoming Common Core AND new iPads. Think about the disastrous iPad rollout in LA -- -- and how these devices will play into the Common Core introduction in SB. Who is coordinating all this?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 28, 2013 at 3:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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