What Should Kentucky Homeschoolers Make of the Commissioner’s Comments on Homeschool Numbers?
A recent article caused a stir among homeschoolers in Kentucky, and connections were made to Common Core. Find out what the Commissioner said and what it means for homeschoolers…
“On the February 09, 2015 edition of WFPL’s midday report, host Devin Katayama reported on the recent Kentucky School Board meeting. His report titled, “As Dropout Age Changes, the Kentucky Education Department is Keeping an Eye on Homeschooling” may have given some in the homeschool community the wrong impression.”
“The state dropout rate and under achieving students are the problem, not the number of homeshoolers. More precisely, the problem is the number of students in public school whose parents and school system have failed them. The new age increase laws do nothing to deal with the real issue. ” Read More.
Carrie also points out that on the first page of Pearson’s website www.pearson.com, it shows a Muslim woman in a hijab looking at a computer with the heading “21 Century Education”. We hope that when you read the article, you will be as upset as those of us at KACC. Our children are being educated and tested by those with known ties to terrorist organizations and it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
We asked everyone last evening to call your school superintendent and your legislator and tell them that your child will not take a test from a terrorist organization. We would like to take it one step further.
We want everyone to call Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Wilson at 1-502-564-8100 x 717 and House Education Chairman Derrick Graham at 1-502-223-1769 and tell them that if we don’t get a bill to preclude the KY Dept. of Education from contracting with entities that have known ties to extreme organizations, our only choice then is to have our children OPT OUT of the KPREP test.
We are not telling anyone what to do, but opting out of testing maybe the only way to “stir the pot”, so to speak. We get calls and emails daily about children coming home crying about the testing and the pressure to score high.
Remember money is involved in the testing. If your child opts out, the school and others get a zero for the score. That translates to no federal or other organizations monies. They probably will try to go after you and your child with many different threats. If you read this article there is a line in the second last paragraph that states. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children. They can not take that away from you.
Best of luck. We all must do our part to end this nonsense. We will have other ideas as the year goes by. Let us know how your phone conversations went by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The desire to provide our children with the best possible education is universal. Even those who have no kids or whose children are long grown understand the importance of fostering a top-notch educational system that produces intelligent, well-rounded young men and woman who possess the skills and knowledge to achieve their dreams and contribute to society. However, this desire is currently being hindered by a cabal of special interest “education” groups whose intentions lie in data gathering, testing for profit and drifting as far as possible away from the foundational principles of American education. Excessive standardized testing—the love child of Common Core and big business—is strangling creativity, hobbling teachers and sending some students straight to the nurse’s office with stress-induced symptoms. One Kentucky mother is fighting back by opting her sons out of the endless testing cycle and reestablishing the parent as the true steward of their children’s education.
Mason County mother of two Laura Arrasmith, knew something was up when her son was brought to tears every night by his homework. “Last year when we started crying every night at 4th grade math I knew something was wrong,” said Arrasmith. “It wasn’t being taught the way I was taught. The teacher said his hands were tied. He had to teach it the way the standards presented it.” This inflexibility led her to books, the internet and the local chapter of Kentuckians Against Common Core (http://www.kentuckiansagainstcommoncore.com/) where she learned all about the system and its inherent testing. From there, she began questioning her kids’ school on what options were available to parents who did not want their child tested. “I emailed my principal and started asking questions,” she said. “I am the first parent in my district to even ask about opting out.”
Arrasmith was entering uncharted territory and had no baseline from which to begin. Her options were to have her kids simply leave the test blank, or keep them home on testing days. Because so many days are set aside for testing, however, the latter choice would lead to 20 or more “unexcused” absences. Also, if her sons attend on testing days but do not answer the questions, they are automatically tagged as low achievers. “If a child doesn’t test, they receive a ‘novice’ score, according to my district, which is the worst score, and that will appear on their record,” said Arrasmith. “I take issue with that. It should read ‘opted out’ rather than a made-up score.”
Arrasmith turned to the site http://unitedoptout.com/ to learn more about the process and access the current opt-out forms. Nothing is clear-cut about opting our students out of standardized testing, and many states, Kentucky included, are dealing with the situation on a case by case basis. The consequences for opting a student out are vague, and official exemptions seem reserved only for extreme cases. But if things are going to change in the Bluegrass parents need to step-up, speak-up, and demand that their children not be reduced to a collection of data that amounts to little more than fodder for profit. Arrasmith sums up her frustration, the need for action and the unfortunate truth behind Common Core. “I joined a committee at school that reviews the KPREP score card provided by the Department of Education. I did it so I could learn more and saw that it’s all a numbers game. It all boils down to money in the end—money the government dangles like a carrot in front of states. Money that greedy law makers jump to grab without considering what the consequences are to our children. These tests don’t determine a child’s progress as much as they tell the Department of Education everything under the sun about our family.”
Reviewing Kentucky’s Education Power Structure: David Adkisson
There is a reason why Kentucky was the first state to adopt and implement the Common Core State Standards. As noted in an earlier article, Kentucky’s power structure consists of Gene Wilhoit, Terry Holliday, Felicia Smith, Steve Beshear, David Adkisson, Vicki Phillips, etc., along with a bureaucratic framework that rivals most any other state. And the timing was right as well.
In 2009 the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1. This legislation mandated new academic standards focused on the “critical knowledge, skills and capacities needed for success in the global economy.” The Senate Bill 1 steering committee supported collaboration with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), then led by former Kentucky Education Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, in the Common Core Standards project. In February of 2010, Governor Steve Beshear and the Commissioner of Education, Terry Holliday, adopted the Common Core State Standards (although not yet completed and without our elected legislators’ involvement).
David Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, is the important third leg of this three-legged stool (along with Gene Wilhoit and Terry Holliday) that makes up the main power structure for the support and implementation of the Common Core State Standards in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
A graduate of Georgetown College, David Adkisson earned a Masters in Ethics from Harvard University in 1975. He began his career with the Chamber of Commerce, Owensboro, KY, first as a project manager and then as the executive vice president. At age 34, David was elected mayor of Owensboro and re-elected four years later.
During his 20 years of service in Kentucky, David Adkisson held several statewide leadership posts including chairman of the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education, president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives (KCCE), co-founder of Leadership Kentucky and chairman of the Kentucky Center for Public Issues.
In 1999, David Adkisson was named the president of the Birmingham, Alabama Chamber of Commerce. After nearly six years at that post he came back to Kentucky as the President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. In 2007, he spearheaded and created a strategic plan for the State called the “New Agenda for Kentucky”, and the Chamber assembled a panel of Kentucky’s top CEOs to conduct a major study of higher education.
The actions of the next couple of years set the stage for how Kentucky ended up with Common Core (Kentucky Core Academic Standards) and why Kentucky was the first state to adopt such standards and assessments.
• A summer meeting in 2008, set up by Gene Wilhoit, a former Kentucky Commissioner of Education and then current Executive Director of the CCSSO, and David Coleman, an emerging evangelist in the standards movement who would become the so-called “architect of Common Core”, met with Bill and Melinda Gates asking them to fund their efforts in revamping U.S. education policy. Weeks passed, finally Wihoit received a call, Gates was all in. Not only did the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards, with over $200 Million, the Foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.
• February 17, 2009 President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into law. This legislation included $4.35 Billion in “Race to the Top” grants to entice states to file for these much needed funds, which soon included the adoption of the Common Core State Standards and their assessments, Statewide Longitudinal Data System, etc.
• Coincidentally, in early 2009, Kentucky’s Senate Bill 1 calls for major changes in its educational standards, testing, accountability and professional development. Governor Beshear signs the bill into law on March 26, 2009.
• April 2009, the development of the standards began and were overseen by the CCSSO and the NGA.
• In July of 2009, Terry Holliday, Ph.D., was selected as Kentucky’s fifth Commissioner of Education.
• Wilhoit, Executive Director of the CCSSO, working with Commissioner Holliday and 40+ other chief state school officers, convinced them to adopt the Common Core State Standards.
• February 2010, Kentucky is the first state to adopt the Common Core State Standards. This is before the draft of the grade-by-grade standards was released for public comment on March 10th, and the final set of standards were not released until June 2nd of 2010.
Now that Governor Beshear, Commissioner Holliday and the DOE had adopted the Common Core (Kentucky Core Academic Standards) without legislative or public hearings, they needed a major partner to develop a campaign to build support for this action. To the rescue, David Adkisson, President and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
With $476,553 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s foundation produced a seven-minute video about the value and impact of the Common Core, a tool kit to guide employers in how to talk about its benefits with their employees, a list of key facts that could be stuffed into paycheck envelopes, and other promotional materials written by consultants. The Chamber also created a coalition on more than five dozen company executives across the state who lent their names to ads placed in business publications that supported the Common Core.
David Adkisson boasted, “The notion that the business community was behind this, those seeds were planted across the state, and that reaped a nice harvest in terms of public opinion.”
Adkisson and Commissioner Holliday built strong support for the Common Core, using millions of dollars of outside money and with little knowledge of what was actually in the Common Core,
Over time, more than $15 Million in Gates money was directed both to the state – to train teachers in Common Core practices and purchase classroom materials – and to on-the-ground advocacy and business groups to help build public support. What was also very helpful, the Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (since 2007) is Vicki Phillips, who grew up in Kentucky, went to Western Kentucky University, served seven years as the Assistant Chief Executive to the Kentucky Commissioner of Education, and still has close ties with the power structure in Kentucky’s education circles.
“Without the Gates money,” Commissioner Holliday added, “we wouldn’t have been able to do this.”
Perpetuating this action is The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky (The Fund) and its board of Directors which includes David Adkisson, Gene Wilhoit, Terry Holliday, Senator Mike Wilson, along with other business and academic leaders. Its mission is to “recruit, coordinate, and support expertise and resources to inspire and scale innovation and excellence in Kentucky’s public schools, resulting in a better future for all of our children”.
With the initial tests scores from this new Common Core curriculum being disappointingly down, the state now claims how well everything is working and moving our students forward to be college- and career-ready. Yet, if you look at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Leaders & Laggards” for the 2014 Report Card on the State of Kentucky, you’ll see a somewhat different story:
• Academic Achievement – Grade C (down from Grade A in 2007)
• Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students – Grade C
• Return on Investment – Grade C
• Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency – Grade C
• Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness – Grade C
• 21st Century Teaching Force – Grade C
• Parental Options – Grade F
• Data Quality – Grade A
• Technology – Grade D
• International Competiveness – Grade D
• Fiscal Responsibility – Grade F
So, has the Kentucky Department of Education under Commissioner Terry Holliday and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce led by President and CEO David Adkisson, and all this outside money, sold Kentuckians that Common Core is what is needed to move Kentucky forward in the new global economy? I think not.
More and more Kentuckians, as they understand what, why and who is fueling this Common Core initiative, will rise up and demand that they be heard by our elected legislators. But what good are public hearings if no actions are taken, or if the votes are negated?
Case in point:
• A public hearing was held on March 13, 2014 before the Senate Education Committee where substantive arguments against Common Core were made by academic experts, yet Commissioner Terry Holliday, with side-kick Kentucky Chamber President David Adkisson, praised the standards. Chair Senator Mike Wilson decided to take no action.
• Or, the public hearing on September 11, 2013 before the Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee to consider adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), where the subcommittee voted 5 to 1 saying these science standards were “deficient”, Commissioner Holliday goes running to the Governor and Governor Beshear decides to use his executive privilege and negated the vote and made the NGSS law of the state.
We must demand to be heard. Kentuckians throughout the state need to get involved and contact your state representatives and senators and voice your opposition to the Common Core (Kentucky Core Academic Standards), its aligned assessments and the insidious data collection on our students and their families.
Wayne M. Meyer, AIA
A Concerned Father / Grandfather
A 40+ Year Professional, contact: email@example.com
Read the other two articles on Gene Wilhoit and Terry Holliday:
Sources for this article:
• Lyndsey Layton’s Washington Post article, June 7, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html
• U.S. Chamber’s www.businessforcore.org/kentucky and “Leaders & Laggards” Kentucky’s Report Card
SBDM, or Site Based Decision Making was adopted in Kentucky in 1990.
“The intention of SBDM was to empower each school individually, giving further localized authority for decisions on school operational procedures, and curriculum to a body within each individual school. The body is composed of the principal, teachers (who report to the principal), parents, and a minority parent (if one is available and willing).”
So, what happened to SBDM? Read on to find out…. CLICK HERE.
Those involved in the fight against Common Core do not need rhetoric or advocacy disguised as research to further convince them of the academic and societal dangers inherent in this so-called set of standards. The Chamber of Commerce, however, does. Despite the lack of tangible results, loss of parental control and huge gaps in curriculum, the National Chamber—as well several state and local chapters—have thrown their support behind this program in what can only be described as a manipulative and backward business move. But why?
In her June 2014 Federalist article “Is the Chamber of Commerce Jumping the Shark on Common Core”, Joy Pullman addresses the reasons behind the chamber’s support. Citing an interview with Dr. Milton Freidman (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xp2eqQ8Msbs) where he suggests the real enemies of free markets are businesses themselves, she expands on his analysis and ties it to the chamber’s love of the government-driven Common Core. “Businesses are all too comfy acting like the protected class, of which government education is a prime example. So they have a natural sympathy for bureaucratic non-solutions to social and political problems.” Adding, “But, second, it shows that the businesses of today want workers fit for the business they have today, so they don’t have to bear the pressure of shifting their business to fit tomorrow’s economy. If they can lock in tomorrow’s labor force
to their current structure, they can ensure their survival through labor force capture rather than shifting continually and rapidly to serve consumers and their employees.”
Common Core is designed to keep students at a particular educational and vocational level, rather than equipping them with the necessary skills and challenges that will respect them as individuals and open up a world of career possibilities. As Dr. Friedman suggests in his interview, most of the seemingly endless bureaucratic regulations that stifle business come from the business community itself. Their pleas for government intervention are motivated by profit, or rather the hope of limiting of their competitors’ profits, and rallying behind what amounts to a top-down government controlled curriculum does little more than perpetuate their economic status quo. A practice, according to
Pullman, which will ultimately backfire. “The danger to the Chamber of reflexively following this pattern, though, is finding itself in ten years a has-been that serves old companies, but not that moment’s new economic constellation. That makes it likely new companies will spurn the Chamber because it doesn’t protect their interests, ensuring the Chamber’s current actions equal slow suicide.”
From Bill Gates to local Chambers of Commerce, money is clearly the motivating factor here.
Products and services all tied to an educational program that is devoid of results, diminishes parental involvement and smacks of a backroom deal will ensure that the “business” of American education becomes truly that.
On March 13, 2014, the Senate Committee on Education held a hearing regarding Senate Bill 224, which would effectively repeal Common Core in Kentucky. Commissioner Terry Holliday noted that too many students were graduating from high school and entering postsecondary education unprepared to be successful in college level courses. Too many students had to take remedial courses in college which placed a financial strain on students and parents and decreased the likelihood of the students successfully completing a two- or four-year degree. The lack of college readiness, if not addressed, would have a negative impact on the Kentucky economy. That is why the Kentucky Core Academic Standards must remain.
After waiting years to finally have a chance to speak out against the federal overreach of our education system, Kentuckians against Common Core along with national experts provided compelling arguments why the Common Core State Standards (Kentucky Core Academic Standards) should be repealed and replaced with new education standards developed for Kentuckians, by Kentuckians.
During his testimony Dr. Holliday stated, “Kentucky students are not headed for STEM, but they are headed for careers which pay a ‘living wage’. They are not headed for an elitist university degree.” If that is what the Common Core provides for the students of Kentucky, that would be appalling and would appear contrary to the 2009 SB 1 which mandates new academic standards focused on the “critical knowledge, skills and capacities needed for success in the global economy.” Surely Kentuckians can, and must, do better than aspire to just be able to make a ‘living wage’.
Even after this long awaited hearing and excellent testimony against the standards, Senator Mike Wilson decided to take no action. “The bill to repeal Common Core isn’t likely to go further this session.” So, what’s the purpose of holding a public hearing if no action is to be taken?
On August 25, 2014 Commissioner Holliday announced the Kentucky Core Academic Standards Challenge. This Challenge “is designed to challenge stakeholders to read the standards and then provide specific, actionable feedback on any particular standards with which they have an issue.” This exercise will remain open until April 30, 2015 to give those who are interested ample opportunity to provide a thoughtful response. The submitted changes and additions will be submitted to the Kentucky Board of Education, which will consider—and hold public hearings on—the revisions.
This seven-month exercise falsely empowers teachers and others the opportunity to “tweak and improve” specific Kentucky Core Academic Standards when Kentucky has no ability or right to make such changes. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) are acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards (copyrighted), and no claims to the contrary shall be made. The Kentucky Board of Education may collect feedback on specific standards but only the NGA Center/CCSSO, as national non-partisan/non-profit professional associations, can make changes to the Standards.
Commissioner, Terry Holliday, as the former President of the CCSSO, could have noted this seven-month program of collecting feedback as part of a national program, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. On face value, it appears that this is simply a public relation move for the Department of Education, based on a false premise that changes and improvements can be made to the Kentucky Core Academic Standards.
Kentuckians would rather see members of this power structure develop education standards and their aligned assessments for Kentuckians, by Kentuckians, rather than adopting standards that were developed in secret behind closed doors at the national level, and copyrighted. Transparency is critical to us, as is control of our education system at the state and local levels.
KACCS contributing writer: Wayne M. Meyer, AIA, firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a reason why Kentucky was the first state to adopt and implement the Common Core State Standards. As noted in an earlier article, Kentucky’s power structure consist of Gene Wilhoit, Terry Holliday, Felicia Smith, Steve Beshear, David Adkisson, Vicki Phillips, etc., along with a bureaucratic framework that rivals most any other state. And the timing was right as well.
In 2009 the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1. This legislation mandated new academic standards focused on the “critical knowledge, skills and capacities needed for success in the global economy.” The Senate Bill 1 steering committee supported collaboration with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), then led by former Kentucky Education Commissioner Gene Wilhoit, in the Common Core Standards project. February of 2010, Governor Steve Beshear and the Commissioner of Education, Terry Holliday, adopted the Common Core State Standards (although now yet completed and without our elected legislators’ involvement).