Kentucky teachers on Common Core problems someone might not want you to hear about

from: Dick Innes of Bluegrass Institute


We’ve heard from Frankfort (and even the Wall Street Journal) that Kentucky’s teachers are not speaking out much about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) problems. Well, maybe we are not hearing about our teachers’ issues because someone doesn’t want us to hear what’s being said.

A case in point: take a look at this comment from Page 15 in a never-released report from the American Institutes of Research (AIR):

One TL (Teacher Leader) in Kentucky described LDC (Literacy Design Collaborative) training provided by the state as piecemeal:

I hate to speak negatively of our state because I do think they have done some very positive things. But I also think that [it is bad to] just give pockets of information here, here, and here and not give the full training on something­ just giving you a taste of it to where you are not getting the full implementation of certain things- I think that causes problems. And I know that has caused issues…in my school with the LDC [tool] because I am, like, “That is not a module. You gave your kids a question, and they had to write about it. That is not a module.” But [the teachers say] “that is what they told us.”

Read more on his blog here.

Our Response to KDE and Holliday’s Threats on Opting Out of High Stakes Testing


The mission of Kentuckians Against Common Core is clear: repeal it. Those involved in the organization share this view and are working diligently toward this goal. Now parents have begun asking tough questions and demanding their constitutional rights as guardians of their children —protected under the Fourteenth Amendment— be respected and upheld with regard to their education. Unfortunately, many school administrators and Kentucky Department of Education officials view themselves as the ultimate authority over Kentucky’s kids and are often at odds with parents seeking to protect their children from inappropriate content, inferior curriculum and excessive testing. KACC is working to educate the public on what Common Core is all about, why the “opt out” movement is growing, and what is really going on in Frankfort.

“It is not our right to tell parents what to do education-wise,” said KACC’s Terry Donoghue, “and it is not up to the Kentucky Department of Education or Terry Holliday to tell them their kids have to take all those standardized tests.” Holliday, who has served as Kentucky’s education commissioner since 2009, has been under fire from anti-Common Core groups for telling parents they do not have the ability to opt their children out of state testing. Parents have been doing just that in other states, New York being a prime example. According to an April 14, 2015 article in the New York Post, “Parents across the city and state drew a thick line in the sand Tuesday, boycotting high-stakes standardized tests that they blame for unnecessary student anxiety and unfair teacher evaluations. Vowing to shatter last year’s opt-out numbers, Common Core test opponents organized a social media campaign and got the backing of the state teachers union to encourage students to put down their pencils. Anecdotal evidence suggests they succeeded. The number of students statewide who balked at taking Tuesday’s English exam for third- to eighth- graders will likely surpass last year’s 60,000.”

But in the Commonwealth the KDE continues to mandate that the testing is not optional and parents have no right to keep their children from participating. “This whole thing is about money,” said Donoghue. Kentucky was the first state to sign-on to the so-called standards, and in doing so became eligible for federal grant money as part of the “Race to the Top” program. From the feds to Pearson Education, who handles the KPREP testing, to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who have contributed extensive grant money, millions of dollars have been poured into Common Core as a means to undermine individual state authority—guaranteed under the Tenth Amendment—to oversee the education of our children. “We went to Louisville to protest Common Core for Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s visit. Terry Holliday ran away, but Duncan talked with us briefly. Nothing new, just the same old stuff. I wanted to ask Holliday if it hadn’t been for the money, would we have Common Core?” Donoghue reflected on the untested, unproven “standards” adding, “Even Holliday has said we are over-testing, but keeps supporting it. And Bill Gates said it might be ten years before we know if it works. Ten years? How can we do that to our kids?”

Beyond the unseemly money-for-goods angle, there is another aspect to Common Core that goes against the very fabric of our Constitution and the liberty it provides our citizens. The whole premise of CC is to create a cookie cutter, federally funded, top-down education system that necessarily diminishes parental involvement and allows control and power to operate via political ideological fiat. This is at best grievous, at worst intolerable. Concerned parent Carrie Cox recently sent a letter to Todd Allen, Assistant General Counsel at the Kentucky Department of Education, expressing great uneasiness with the attitude of the KDE with regard to parental rights, and the very real risk some of their Common Core dealings may pose to Kentucky’s military families. In her press release Cox stated “Allen argued that a parents 14th Amendment rights are limited to their choice of public or private education. Staunch opponents of this view hold that the Due Process clause of the 14th amendment has been upheld multiple times by the Supreme Court with the understanding that the child is the property of the parent, not the property of the state. That argument aside, some military families are objecting on the grounds that Pearson Education, who currently holds the contract for the KPREP testing has ties to terrorist organizations. When asked about their ties to terrorist; Pearson Education’s spokesperson, Chief Executive Officer, Marjorie Scardino said, “We did meet with one of their financial representatives, a European….We are a public company in a free market and we don’t choose our shareholders they choose us. The basic premise is, this is one of those glitches in the free market system. Unfortunately we can’t tell a share holder to get off our register.” (

But we can tell Pearson to get out of our state. “Our long-range goal is to get rid of Common Core and the excessive testing,” said Donoghue. And at the center of that fight are Kentucky’s parents. KACC is not in the business of telling anyone what to do when it comes to the education of their children, as we firmly believe that inherent and constitutional right belongs solely to the parents. But we are in the business of educating the public on what is happening with Common Core and providing information for individuals interested in taking up the fight. Below are links to both the KACC web page and the United Opt out Movement. Learn all you can, and decide for yourself what will be the next best step.

Candidates Respond to KACC Common Core Questionnaire


KACC has refrained from endorsing any candidate in the Primary, but provides the following information for you to be an informed voter in the upcoming Primary, Tuesday, May 19, 2015.

All candidates had equal opportunity to respond, and we greatly thank the candidate who make the time and effort to do so.

Following is the email questions that were sent, and the responses (or lack of) from the candidates.

“Kentuckians Against Common Core would like to ensure that our readers and supporters have the information they need to make informed decisions regarding their vote for Governor in the upcoming primary races. Therefore, we are sending all registered candidates for this year’s Governor’s race a questionnaire regarding their stance on Common Core. We ask that you answer the questionnaire, keeping your response between 300-400 words, return to us by email no later than May 1st. We will send out all response to our followers in our weekly newsletter. If a candidate decides not to respond to our questionnaire, we will let our readers know that as well. ”

“The questions are: 1) What is your position on Common Core, 2) what actions will you take as Governor to have Common Core repealed in KY, 3) what steps would you take to repeal Common Core if the legislators are against having CC repealed, 4) what standards would you use to replace the Common Core standards, and 5) in light of the recent articles on Pearson Education…what would you do as Governor to eliminate standardized testing.”


Kentuckians Against Common Core received no response to our email questions from the following candidates.  We will include their email addresses so that as individuals you may ask the candidates who did not respond directly.

Those candidates are:

Jack Conway (D): No response.

Geoff Young (D):  No response.

James Comer (R): No response., Facebook page.

Will T. Scott (R): No response.  No shareable contact information.

Hal Heiner’s (R) No response. Facebook page. Twitter.

Matt Bevins (R) responds:

1) What is your position on Common Core?
 I am adamantly opposed. Common Core is a massive federal overreach designed to nationalize education. It is an affront to parental authority and local control. The future of our great Commonwealth depends on the strength of Kentucky’s families, families where parents are the first and final authority over their child’s academic and moral education.

2) What actions will you take as Governor to have Common Core repealed in KY?
 As a top priority of my administration, I would call on the legislature to put forth a complete repeal of the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), that includes the standards, the testing, teacher evaluations and data collecting programs. In the immediate term, issuing an Executive Order to cease and desist the program would provide the much needed relief that Kentucky’s children and families deserve.
3) What steps would you take to repeal Common Core if the legislators are against having CC repealed?
Governing is about leadership, principled leadership. If elected as the state’s top executive, I enter office as an outsider, not encumbered by the influence of past political favors. That freedom would allow my state budget to reflect and respect the citizens and taxpayers of Kentucky, and provide the tool to defund Common Core. This would also provide cover for legislators to change their position if there’s an unwavering new direction.

4) What standards would you use to replace the Common Core standards?
Our fifty state federalist system has provided for fifty labs of innovation. I have no doubt that Kentucky can pull from our experience and look to what’s worked in other states, and put in place high quality standards that will serve our children well without compromising our state sovereignty over education. The solutions are not complicated once we remove the bureaucracy and institute education policy that serves children, rather than special interests and political agendas.

5) In light of the recent articles on Pearson Education…what would you do as Governor o eliminate standardized testing?
The testing issues are a result of multiple factors; tests for value added dimensions for school and teacher evaluations, tests developed and controlled outside Kentucky, tests designed to garner non-academic data and the list goes on.  I would call for a state-level test, designed to measure academic achievement, which would provide important feedback to parents and distracts, inform state policy, and satisfy the federal requirement of No Child Left Behind. One standardized test, once a year. It’s time to get back to learning.

You may contact Candidate Bevins at:  Facebook Twitter





An Educated Response to Opting Out and Pearson’s Involvement in Common Core

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Do parents have the right to opt their children out of high-stakes testing? One Boone County, Kentucky parent points out that we not only have the right, we have the responsibility!

Read her letter :

Response to Kentucky Core Academic Standards (“KCAS”) Challenge


TO: Kentucky Department of Education (“KDE”)
Terry Holliday, Commissioner
Kentucky Board of Education (“KBE”)
RE: Kentucky Core Academic Standards (“KCAS”) Challenge

DATE: April 20, 2015

BACKGROUND: The KDE has issued a Challenge to citizens of the Commonwealth to 1) increase awareness of KCAS, adopted in 2010, in language arts and mathematics, and 2) solicit “actionable” feedback. The KDE is only allowing comments tied to a specific standard for a comment to be considered for recommendation to the Kentucky Board of Education (“KBE”). Several “Guides” for reviewing KCAS are provided online.

CONCLUSION: The online response format is not conducive to reasoned review. The KCAS is not readily evaluated by examination of individual standards alone, as the Challenge invites. Rather, as a whole, copyrighted as they are, the standards are incapable of dissection since they are all tied together, in math, for example, by conceptual categories, and are categorized into domains. Each domain contains groups of standards called clusters. Clusters and domains are organizational tools. Trying to isolate a standard for comment is like trying to untie a Gordian knot. The scheme as a whole must be analyzed; the parts cannot be separated from the whole for meaningful evaluation. A thoughtful review of KCAS as an aggregate of specific standards, does not produce a set of standards which meets the requirements of Kentucky Revised Statutes (“KRS”), specifically, but not limited to KRS 158 and 156, and especially KRS 158.6451. The KDE should recommend to the KBE that KCAS, as presently constituted, should be replaced in toto.

DISCUSSION: In 2008, Mr. Gene Wilhoit and Mr. David Coleman sought funding for their education reform idea package to improve education in America. The key to changing education in America and in Kentucky was money. Thus, the pitch to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (“Foundation”) was successful and the Foundation provided grants over time to write new standards. By 2010, the Foundation had funded political support to persuade Kentucky and other states to adopt expansive, untested changes. The Kentucky Department of Education, NOT the Kentucky legislature, was first in line to accept the new standards, and the money, or to accept the excuse from having to spend money, that went with it. Kentucky was perhaps too eager, as the KDE accepted Common Core standards before they were even finalized. The sell? The new standards were free, or so they thought. Kentucky got what it paid for, and without the Gates’ money, “we wouldn’t have been able to do this.” Terry Holliday, quoted in Layton, Lyndsey, “How Bill Gates Pulled Off The Swift Common Core Revolution,” The Washington Post, June 7, 2014. See, Footnote 1, below. For the KDE to ask citizens to comment only on “specific standards” to be heard is too little, too late and violates the spirit and the letter of our due process and public input laws. The problems with the KCAS dwarf this Challenge.

To illustrate the magnitude of problems, the following examples demonstrate how it is impossible to comment on a few specific standards. While one might comment that cursive writing should be mandatory in the KCAS at the developmentally appropriate grade level, it appears that KDE is not interested. After all, the developmental appropriateness of so many standards which are requiring very young children to write copiously, are now being questioned, especially at the early primary level and it appears that the standards were not written by people with this expertise. While many parents and teachers are finding that math problems, which used to be solved in two or three steps, now require a dozen steps with no perceivable advantage to most learners, the KDE is not interested. This failure to acknowledge problems seems to be the case, despite the fact that one original committee member reviewing math standards, refused to validate the standards and stated that they left students two years behind other learners’ achievement by the 7th Grade. While the KCAS eschews classic works of fiction in their entirety, or require only parts of texts, the KDE is perfectly happy to roll the dice, without benefit of scholarly evaluation, that replacing demonstrated classics with regulations and informational texts to read will somehow enhance college readiness.

Many citizens, parents and teachers are not willing to exchange rigorous standards for untested universal standards, just for the sake of doing so. When parents and teachers have questions about the standards, who are they going to call for answers? There is no one at the federal Department of Education who will answer, and there is certainly no one at other government offices since the standards are copyrighted by non-governmental groups and not subject to meaningful change. Who, then, is in charge of the new, untested standards? No one. Kentucky needs to take responsibility for its own standards.

It is time that the KDE take responsibility for the KCAS, which is not producing the intended results—a more rigorous set of standards that reduce the need for remedial classes at the college level—unless the primary intended result was to accept a product simply because it was free, then hope for the best. It is time to make a more thorough review. The current KCAS specific standards are deficient as implemented, and the standards must be reviewed by Kentucky educators now, as a whole. In the interim, a good set of standards should be recommended to the KBE to remedy the English/language arts standards: the 2013 Revised Massachusetts standards provide one of the best templates for Kentucky to use until a complete replacement can be finalized for both English/language arts and math in Kentucky. See, Footnote 2, below.


1 Layton, Lyndsey. “How Bill Gates Pulled Off The Swift Common Core Revolution,” The Washington Post, June 7, 2014.

2 ELA_Curriculum_ Framework.pdf


Military Families and Kprep“Boone County, Kentucky, April 25, 2015– Some military families are outraged by the Kentucky Department of Education’s recent announcement that Kentucky families can’t opt out of the standardize KPREP testing. In a letter sent to Kentucky superintendents on March 27, 2015 Todd Allen, Assistant General Counsel, at the Kentucky Department of Education informed schools that parents don’t have any rights to direct their children’s education.”

Read entire Press Release: press release on military families opting out pdf

KEA Delegate Assembly 2015 Through The Eyes of an Informed Teacher

Steve Shreeve on Kentucky Social Study Standards

Let me start off by saying I will NEVER waste my time at another KEA event.  This was an assembly to promote an agenda, NOT to try and help solve important education issues.  The assembly ran from Wednesday evening to Friday afternoon.  Each day had a keynote speaker.  ALL speakers (except for Holliday, and I’ll get to that in a minute) were democrat politicians who were “pro-education”.  So all the other republican candidates are anti-education?!  Yes, I understand most republicans are for right to work and aren’t necessarily union friendly, but does that have anything to do with education?

The speakers were Jack Conway, Allison Lundergan Grimes, and Adam Edelen.  I and another delegate stopped Edelen after his speech and also asked him if during his JCPS audit he paid attention to the massive amounts of money being spent on assessment?  Did he know that teachers are tied to teaching KCAS standards on a tight teaching/testing schedule?  He said that he understood and would be looking into it.  Edelen was obviously in a rush and didn’t have time to chat so I think we should think about a follow up with him.  Conway was asked by the other delegate and asked about his position on CCSS and he said “I want kids to be college and career ready.” Ha!  So that means he’s for it and we need to continue to make sure he DOES NOT get elected.

Continue reading KEA Delegate Assembly 2015 Through The Eyes of an Informed Teacher

Action Alert! Can You Help?


We have received the itinerary for Secretary of Education,  Arne Duncan’s visit to Louisville on Thursday April 23.
He has four stops listed, but we feel the best place for us to gather and let him know how we feel would be at the Courier Journal on 525 W. Broadway in Louisville.
He is scheduled to speak there at 12:30. Duncan is expected to speak on Kentucky’s ESEA waiver and on the reauthorization of this key piece of education legislation in a chat with the Courier-Journal’s editorial board. It would be best if we start to arrive around 11:15. We have a professional banner and info to distribute, but if you want to make your own sign to let Mr. Duncan know how you feel about Common Core and all the useless testing, feel free to do so.
We have enclosed the link to his itinerary in case you want to show up at one of the other stops. Tell all your friends and neighbors about this. If groups want to co-ordinate carpooling, email us at and let us know so we can get the message out.
We understand that parking is available near the CJ building.
We need a large crowd to show that KY may have been first to take on Common Core, but we won’t be the last state to remove it!
or Terry Donoghue, 859-802-8573
or leave us a comment below

We Need Your Help!

We need your help!

Credit: AP
Credit: AP

Arne Duncan will be making a visit to Louisville April 23. If you would be interested in participating in a peaceful gathering  during one of his scheduled stops, please Inbox this page or email

We have a professional banner and information for distribution.


More on Arne Duncan:

Words from retiring education commissioner, Terry Holliday (from 8/2014)

And be sure and watch the VIDEO!

You’ll learn Arne Duncan’s role in Common Core, along with other key players.


Who Do Your Children Belong To? WDRB Point of View Post

“I want to talk to you about Kentucky’s student assessment testing called KPREP.”
WDRB 41 Louisville News

“KPREP does not instruct children, isn’t a part of their grades and is up to 11 hours of “High Stakes Testing” of our children for the purpose of collecting data and tracking students in return for federal money. As a part of Common Core, the state of Kentucky mandates this non-instructional testing of our children. But Ohio and California have laws that acknowledge a parent’s right to refuse assessment testing of THEIR children for any reason. ” CONTINUE READING