The Exit Exam V Common Core: A Suggested Compromise

The testimony of Josh Tolley’s father is very moving. I have never been a fan of the Exit Exam. I have always been against it. Thus, it is very difficult for me to argue for it. Yet, I must, sadly, argue that it be kept. Why?

Because No Child Left Behind is still part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that is FEDERAL law. STATE Law says you must take it and pass it to graduate. FEDERAL LAW says you must offer it. I DO support ending it as a graduation provision in the State of Alaska.

However, the state must OFFER it because of the No Child Left Behind provisions. Now, it is true that the state of Alaska did receive a waiver from the No Child Left Behind provisions of the law. But that waiver was based on the adoption of the Common Core Standards, being touted as the Alaska State Standards (what I like to call the A.S.S.).

If we totally eliminate the No Child Left Behind Test from law, we eliminate ever repealing the Alaska Common Core State Standards. It is also true that I have advocated the use of the ACT or SAT as a “final exam” for students. That is one part of the Governor’s plan that I like. It could be possible to give students a choice in tests, ACT/SAT, Exit Exam.

But we can’t eliminate the ‘exit’ exam because of federal law. HOWEVER, what we can do as a state is eliminate the GRADUATION REQUIREMENT. I am pretty certain that few, if any,  will take the test if it isn’t required. So, in effect, it would eliminate the exam if students could substitute the ACT, SAT, or anther exam. However, the exam must be kept on the books.

It would also keep Alaska in compliance with Federal Statute, from which we received a TEMPORARY Waiver by adopting the Common Core Standards rebranded as the A.S.S. I hope this clarifies matters on why I am being amazingly silent on the matter of repealing the exit exam that I argued with a certain commissioner with in times past.

I watched what happened when California’s Gov. Jerry Brown did it. It has now served as another barrier to repealing Common Core. Interestingly, it was Arne Duncan’s press release disputing Governor Brown and the California Legislature’s repeal of their No Child Left Behind Test that illuminated that little factoid. In the passage of AB 484 in the state of California (which is similar to Alaska’s SB 111) Secretary of Education Arne Duncan revealed that he cannot then calculate AYP targets if they eliminate the test. The waiver is merely a waiver, not a repeal of No Child Left Behind. As reported in the LA Times,

” He takes a dim view of AB 484.. That would keep the Department of Education from using the scores to determine whether schools have met their targets under No Child Left Behind. “

No Child Left Behind is still the law, even if you have a waiver from it. Duncan, BTW, threatened to take California’s money away from them if they did not comply. That whole business is still up in the air, but it is clear that the U.S. D.O.E. is still calculating AYP even if a state does not.

Speaking of California, they have sank $2 billion more into their Computer boondogle and still have yet to meet the technology requirements…..but

Removing the graduation, but keeping the exam as an option (that no one will likely choose) keeps Alaska in compliance with federal law and has the same effect as eliminating the exam. Hopefully, 2014 will see a repeal of Common Core AND No Child Left Behind at the Federal Level. Until then, Alaska, like all other states, is stuck with the albatross.

One last item of note is that the state CAN CHOSE its test for AYP purposes. Perhaps offering the Test Of Adult Basic Education (T.A.B.E.) that the state already pays for through the Department of Labor would be a better substitute for the worthless Work Keys exam. Few employers in Alaska understand the results of the Work Keys.

However, the employers in Alaska have a very clear notion of what the results of the T.A.B.E. test mean. The Oil Companies all have clear scores on the TABE for certain positions even if you have a high school diploma. I am rather surprised that the Governor and others with clear connections to the oil companies have not asked their Human Resource Managers what the T.A.B.E. test score is to work on an oil rig. For many years, it has been a 6th grade score on the Form A or D on the T.A.B.E. Almost every labor union apprenticeship program has T.A.B.E. scores that are required, even if they pass the exit exam.

The reason? The Exit Exam had math errors…. nearly 20% of the math answers were not correct in the answer key for any given year. (Ask the U.S. D. O. E. ). They know I know this and that is why they don’t want me to testify.

The state could save money this way.

The T.A.B.E. has excellent diagnostics, and I often recommended students take it before the Accuplacer. It has an excellent correlation table to both the Accuplacer, SAT, and the ACT. I also worked up a correlation table for the Exit Exam during my years as an ABE educator.

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Confirmation from AK DEED that Alaska Left the SBAC

You can find AK-DEED’s press release here. The press release will also be added to the documents on this website as well. We still need to watch for confirmation from SBAC. This will most likely be obvious in Ed Week or from SBAC’s website.

We also need to pay attention to what happens with the faculty position that UAS had allocated to SBAC. This is a big deal, and we need to make sure these folks stay out of Alaska. They put a serious fiscal squeeze on several states, which is why they ultimately left.

Remember, the Pioneer Institute found that for each dollar of Race To The Top funding, $4 dollars in state money was spent. Alaska can ill afford this at the present time if it is going to make good on its prior commitments to teacher retirements.

I am also going to start talking more about the need for student knowledge to be independent of technology (K.I.T.). What technology will there be in the future? We don’t know… so knowledge has to be independent of that.

We will be getting a “make-over” on the website as well.

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Jan Common Core Meme

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Cautious Optimism- Alaska Quietly Announces It Leaves SBAC, But Can It?

There is reason for quiet optimism. As I posted on Alaskans Against Common Core, On Restoring Liberty, Free Patriot, and related to Truth In American Education,  it does appear that Alaska intends to leave the consortia. This is a good sign.

However, it doesn’t mean it is over by a long shot. We still have some major gains to make. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pause and have a short happy dance.

Now that we have that out of the way…..

We have to realize that the announcement was made in the Fairbanks paper. However, it doesn’t seem to have appeared in the other papers of the state. I found that odd, given that during the standards process everything went to the Anchorage paper and NOT the Fairbanks paper. It is noteworthy that this author does live in the North Pole area, and would most likely read the Fairbanks News.

Further, the announcement was made by Eric McCormick. I have tremendous respect for Mr. McCormick and I know he would not release a press release without authorization of his superiors. But it is noteworthy that Commissioner Hanley and Dr. McCauley are not mentioned. Neither is any member of the Alaska Board of Education or the Governor.

Am I the only one who finds this odd?

Here are some concerns upon which we, as activists, must follow up on.

1) The rules of the consortia to which we agreed to abide and the agreement that we signed states that Alaska can leave
a) if it gets the approval of the executive board
b) demonstrates that the SBAC test that will be used is too easy
c) repays all funds spend by the consortia
d) has a modified waiver approved by Secretary Arne Duncan.

Now, here is how I personally would respond, but I suspect the Governor will not do so. The easiest response would be that the Governor and the AK DEED did not have the authority to sign the commitment. Per the Alaska Constitution, that is something that would have to be decided by the state legislature. However, I suspect that the Governor will not take that route. Rather than saying Mea Culpa and moving on, I suspect he will get bogged down in legaleze as lawyers often are prone to do. I hope I am wrong about this, and that he makes a clean break.

Now, getting the approval of the board should be straight forward if no money was accepted. I know I repeatedly asked about that and I was assured that no money was taken from SBAC. However, there is at least one half time position at UAS tied up in the Consortia. Was this simply release time funded out of the goodness of the UA or a grant I do not know; I only know that is was mentioned in passing in UA’s testimony before the state senate last week. Are there other positions tied to SBAC funds? I do not know.

Has a modification to Alaska’s waiver been filed and approved by US DOE Arne Duncan? I do not know.

Further, the most troublesome part is the waiver that was signed. From day one, I have been concerned about this letter that was part of the agreement. The agreement signed by the governor states, that a state can leave without cause but must leave under an exit process. There has to be a written request. There has to be a policy or other reason given and it has to be approved by the Project Management Partner (PMP). It is my understanding that this is West-Ed. There has to be the same signatures that there were on request as there were for the original Memorandum of Understanding. Then the PMP submits the request to the US-ED for approval.

MOU Exit


Then there is Alaskan Stipulation. I call it that because to my knowledge, Alaska is the only state that may be bound to this stipulation for exit. I warned about it in verbal presentations, and this is the first time I have committed this to “ink.” The Alaska Stipulation appears on page 15 in a correspondence between Victor Leamer, and Vernon Jones, both  AK Procurement Officers. For ease, I have pulled that letter out of the rest of the Adobe MOU file.

Alaska Stipulation

Now, these gentlemen are business officers, not education staff, so it may be that they are speaking out of ignorance. If so, then this shows how little the state actually did understand about the agreement they were entering. Clearly, what they “think” they have to do to get out of the consortium and what the consortium rules state are not exactly the same. Let’s look at an enhancement of the last paragraph.


As you will notice, there is some discussion about Alaska demonstrating the inadequacies and the lack of “rigor” in the SBAC test. The test isn’t even going to be available until the day it is given. The pilot did not even use the “adaptive technology” and no single student will have the same test, so how can anyone demonstrate a lack of rigor or otherwise? This is absolutely silly, and doesn’t even conform with the rules of the consortia to which the state agreed. I find it absolutely baffling that these guys didn’t check this agreement out and the rules of the consortia.

It could be a very sticky wicket to get out of this consortia. Let’s hope that despite any policy agreements there is at least some degree of honor among the contracting parties.

But wait there is something more curious here. Look at the date of the signature. It is in February. In 2013, the Alaska legislature went into session on January 18, 2013. This was not approved by the legislature, unless it was an item in the capital budget? It didn’t go through the hearings at all.

How did this happen?  Why are procurement officers signing papers to make an agreement with a consortia to which the governor has not yet agreed to pursue?

Posted in Alaska Department of Education, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Gates Foundation Made Direct Contributions to Alaska’s Government & Education Groups In Alaska For Support of The Common Core

Alaska Common Core2

Much has been said in the media about the role of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the implementation and promotion of the Common Core State Standards. This posting examines the pattern of donations in an Alaskan context and in the context of the groups that were heavily involved in the standards writing process to ensure the “new” Alaska State Standards were the Common Core Standards. .

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made contributions, not campaign contributions, but direct contributions to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (AK-DEED) that coincided with the development of the Alaska Common Core Standards.


Essentially, the Gates Foundation “bribed” AK-DEED. A monetary award of $1.67 Million was given by the Gates Foundation to AK DEED on October 2, 2010. This is shortly after the state of Alaska contracted with Achieve, Inc. to begin the standards writing process.

But the Gates Money didn’t stop with the AK-DEED. They also gave substantial sums, over $5 Million, the years preceding the process. They essentially purchased the professional organization to which  Alaska’s  administrators  belong: The Alaska Council of School Administrators.

Gates Alaska Administrators


For those unaware who these folks are, they are an umbrella organization that organizes the “legislative fly-in” for four groups:

It appears every member of the Alaska School Board is a member of one of these groups. Thus we can say that the professional organization to which the members of the Alaska School Board belong would be beholden to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Thus, with Gates money going directly to AK-DEED and to Alaska’s School Administrators, is there any wonder that the Common Core was adopted?

But the corruption doesn’t stop here. I’ll skip dollars donated to the University of Alaska. They are not trivial by any stretch, and they deserve their own entry. They could consume this whole blog-post. The Gates Foundation is a “Bunnell Member” of the University of Alaska Foundation, which means they regularly contribute over $1 million dollars. Let’s save the involvement of UA to the very end.

Don’t believe for a second that donations don’t matter, they are extremely important for public and private institutions. Universities are ran by Grants and Foundations, and they even have honorary degrees for those who have the dollars to donate.

Back to the adoption of Alaska’s Standards….

As I have stated in previous posts that the validation letter by Patrick Gambles told U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan that Achieve Inc. oversaw the standards writing process in Alaska. He states,

“…Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Staff coordinated with Achieve, Inc in the initial planning stages, of the standards revision process in 2010. Staff from Achieve reviewed Alaska’s revision plan and provided feedback via phone conversations and teleconferences. Achieve provided critical guidance for consideration of appropriate stakeholders, identifying key decision makers, and process-specific tasks, which Alaska incorporated into the review.”

Achieve’s top donor is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. An audit by Mercedes Schneider shows that prior to June 2009, Achieve received $23.5 million in Gates funding. Another $13.2 million followed after Common Core State Standards (CCSS) creation, with $9.3 million devoted to “building strategic alliances” for CCSS promotion, and in 2012 an excess of $9 million was given to Achieve for the purpose of implementation of the common core and strengthening stake holder networks. Those those who don’t know what that means, that means money to go out and promote the common core and education funding for it.

The next organization involved in the writing of Alaska’s standards listed in the validation letter is the National Center for the Improvement of Assessments (NCIEA) in Dover, NH. They facilitated the standards writing process in Alaska by providing the script and the personnel for conducting the teacher meetings.  Gamble states,

“Alaska also utilized two national experts who were involved in developing the Common Core Standards.: Dr. Brian Gong and Dr. Karin Hess from the National Center for the Improvement of Education Assessment (NCIEA). Dr. Gong and Dr. Hess facilitated five meetings and several activities that included K-12 teachers, district curriculum specialists, administrators, college professors, and deans, and members of the business community. Their knowledge of the Common Core Standards allowed them to provide guidance and that specifically addressed concerns related to the quality of our new Alaska standards. “

Two psychologists (Brian Gong and Karen Hess) designed the curriculum crosswalks (comparing one set of standards to another) to persuade educators to accept the common core standards or something sufficiently close. This organization regularly receives large donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. NCIEA received $600,000 alone last year in one grant, and there are numerous grants to them listed on the Gates Foundation website.

It is noteworthy that Karen Hess co-authors work with Dr. Linda Darling Hammond, who is the Senior Advisor to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia (SBAC) that Alaska joined. Has anyone told the Alaska legislature that New Hampshire’s largest school district rejected the Common Core?

The next organization listed in the validation letter that was involved in the process is Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). At the present time, Chris Minnich is the Executive Director, and he is the person who came to Alaska to defend the standards. The CCSSO receives huge sums from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

According to the audit by Mercedes Schneider, the Gates Foundation gave the CCSSO over $21 million in March 2007.  Following CCSS completion in June 2009, Gates funded CCSSO an additional $31.9 million, with the largest grants earmarked for Common Core State Standards implementation and assessment, and data acquisition and control.

In June 2011, they gave CCSSO over $9 million to  support the Common Core State Standards work. In October 2012, they gave CCSSO $1.1 million to  support strategic planning for the sustainability of the Common Core State Standards and the two multi-state assessment consortia tasked with designing assessments aligned with those standards. In July 2013, they gave the CCSSO $4 million on the behalf of SBAC and the other consortia, PARCC to develop Common Core assessments.  There are numerous other awards given by Gates to CCSSO.

But that isn’t all. The validation study, according to Patrick Gamble, will be undertaken by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through a grant to the Center for Alaska Education Policy Research housed at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Gamble writes that he is hopeful the study shows that the standards will better prepare Alaska’s Students.

Ms. Porter-Magee testified at the Alaska State Senate hearings is  from the Thomas Fordham Institute. They received $1.9 million in donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to defend the common core standards in its various forms according to Schneider’s audit.

The Gates Foundation also appears to have donated to the National Education Association (NEA). In July 2013, NEA officially endorsed common core standards, and in July 2013, Gates contributed to NEA for through two grants totaling $6.3 million.

The Gates Foundation also donated $1.1 million to the PTA to mobilize parents to support the Common Core at the national level. It would be interesting to know how much of this money made its way into Alaska.

So, rather than building an LNG facility or providing for things like heat, it appears that Alaska will be going the route of Common Core, the consortium, and a broad band system that it can ill afford. Never fear, as you sit in your outhouse freezing in the winter, you’ll be able check your e-mail, if you are buttressed next to a school that turned the parent filter off for the weekend. The song remains the same, corruption and cronyism reign. It was bad enough when it was oil, but it just takes on a whole new shade when it is your children.


Posted in Alaska, Alaska Department of Education, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, Alaska Education Standards, Alaska Standards, Common Core, Mike Hanley, Sandra Stotsky, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Thank YOU!

I want to thank all those who testified today.  There were many pro-common core people who were on DOE’s payroll, or financially benefit in someway from AKDEED. But I was impressed at the number who took time out of their day to testify.

I thought I would share part of my testimony from today.

I am writing to oppose the Alaska Education Standards, the Common Core, and our membership in both the Smarter Balanced Consortium and other “test” consortia that might be brought forth. I also oppose the new accountability formula. All of these are controlled by Alaska’s membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The consortia and the standards are intertwined, and really cannot be discussed separately.

When students are denied adequate education they are denied employment opportunities. As an economist, the attainment of wealth, along with the distribution of opportunities for it, is intimately related to education and human capital development. For Alaska, it is essential that any efforts made to improve Alaska’s education have a clear focus on development of that capital for our state’s economic future. Economic growth is not going to come from outside investors coming into the state; it must happen by developing what we have here in our state. Through developing our education system, we can attract outside investment, but only after we develop our internal capital.

Because these hearings at present are on the standards themselves, I will confine my testimony at this moment to the standards themselves. To consider the standards in isolation of the consortia is difficult, in fact, impossible. Membership in the consortia vitiates our standards. When the state of Alaska entered into the consortia agreement with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) it agreed to obey the rules of the consortia. It agreed to administer the test of the consortia. The standards tested by the consortia are the common core standards, not the Alaska Standards, which quite frankly, are simply the Common Core rebranded.

These are the rules that bind all members of SBAC. Adopting the Common Core from the Race to the Top, or something virtually identical, is a precondition of entering the Smarter Balanced Consortium. The rules of the consortia clearly state #2 under A at the top of the page 4

In an article in Ed Week of April 23, 2013 details Alaska’s acceptance into SBAC and their history in consortia shopping. They joined SBAC because they were rejected by PARCC. As the article states

“The other consortium, PARCC, which Alaska had also approached last year about potential membership, conveyed to the state that its Memorandum of Understanding requires that a state adopt a “common set of college and career ready standards,” according to PARCC spokesman Chad Colby.”

Teacher pay, retention, and promotion are tied to the scores on the Smarter Balanced test. School accountability formulas are tied to the SBAC test scores. Thus, whatever differences between Alaska’s State Standards and the common core really become irrelevant on a practical level. To get pay and retention, teachers will teach the common core. To get the ASPI ratings, schools will have to teach the common core, because the test scores that underlies this indicia tests the common core standards not the Alaska State Standards.

I also have some qualms about the SBAC test and I will forward those comments separately. The evidence from the pilot suggests this test discriminates disproportionately against minorities and I am happy to put the legislature in touch with a researcher who has been through the data and made that determination. Because the ASPI relies on a race weighted scores from the SBAC test, a test that discriminates against minorities puts schools in an impossible situation. The focus of the school shifts from education to capitulation to a set of regulatory mandates from an external entity.

Getting the state out of the consortia should be the top priority of the legislature. Further, it is within the authority of the state legislature to do so. The Alaska State constitution makes it clear that the legislature has the ultimate authority over education, not the Department of Education. That duty is relegated to AK DOE, but lies with the legislature, not the Governor. In fact, the Governor well overstepped his authority in signing the SBAC agreement because the legislature, not the Governor has the authority over education.

Mike Hanley’s announcement of Alaska’s entry into SBAC came AFTER the legislature gaveled out for the year. This is key, because the Alaska Constitution, upheld in Moore vs State of Alaska states that the State Legislature, NOT the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (AKDEED) and NOT the local school districts determine education policy in the state of Alaska. A change this vast should have gone to the legislature. Yet, the past three Committee Chairs of Education in the Alaska State House have told me that nothing regarding this came before their committees regarding this Consortium. Even in these hearings, there has been no recognition of the rules of the consortia and the money involved.

The money is important.

While I philosophically oppose all standards, if the state is funding something, it has the right to expect accountability with those funds. Further, parents and voters have the right to have a say in these matters. If one looks carefully at all the paperwork in the development of the Alaska State Standards, there is a lot of talk of stake holders. There is no mention of parents and voters. Even in the construction of these hearings, those voices are being locked out of the process.


This process has been driven in part by crony capitalism and in part the quest for federal dollars through the Race to the Top, not to achieve top flight educational outcomes for Alaska’s children. The Gate’s Foundation and the role of other ancillary groups such as Pearson cannot be taken lightly. I have requested clarification from the Gates foundation details of their charitable giving to the University of Alaska system as a whole. I know that in 2012 alone, the UA system received over $2 Million dollars. When I have greater information, I will forward that onto the legislature.

AK DEED’s Mission Was The Money

If the objective of the K-12 education system in Alaska is to produce students who can excel in the areas of math and science, the Alaska State Standards and the Common Core will not produce that result. These standards are not more rigorous, they are simply ridiculous. They are developmentally inappropriate and do not specify outcomes. Standards specify outcomes, not processes. With rare exceptions, the Alaska State Standards and the Common Core specify processes, not outcomes.

If the State of Alaska was sincere in its quest to reduce remedial course work, State DOE would have talked to the Department of Labor personnel who perform intake interviews on those who were referred by the University for remediation. They might have learned that those who needed remediation rarely knew their times tables. They might have learned that many of those who needed remediation often had forgotten, or never learned, how to solve fractions, proportions and ratios, conversion of ratios to percents, order of operations, and the Pythagorean Theorem. Many did not understand squares and square roots and never learned to solve an equation without a scientific calculator. This was based on the Test of Adult Basic Education that is administered by DOL personnel to these students to facilitate remediation.

Despite the fact that the data existed, AK DEED never asked for the data. They never talked to the intake specialists. I know, because that was my job at the time. I was never asked, nor were others in the state at the time. There is no record that they were included in this discussion, despite the valuable information and experiences of these personnel.

Rather than adopting standards that are part of a “national trend” or fashion, Alaska should have looked at states who were achieving success to see what they did right. This is not what happened. It became clear at the outset that the goal of the AK DOE was to get the state of Alaska to adopt something as close to the common core as possible.

As a bit of a digression, you have to understand who are the main agents of action in the Common Core initiative to understand what has happened. Simply put, the Common Core is an initiative of the Obama Administration. It is not state led. There was not one governor involved in writing the standards. It was David Coleman, Susan Pimmentel, and Jason Zimba who were with Achieve. Achieve then partnered with NGA and CCSSO on the Initiative and a number of Achieve staff and consultants served on the writing and review teams. The Alaska State Standards are essentially the Common Core. Because it is illegal for the U.S. DOE to mandate standards and curriculum, they developed two consortia to act as an intermediary in the process. They are the holders of the Race To The Top monies.

While the governor has denied that the state adopted the Common Core by calling them College and Career Ready, this is clearly an attempt to obfuscate the issue. The use of the term, “College and Career Ready” is the Race to the Top Definition of the Common Core. From the U.S. Department of Education Website, that point is made clear.

Clearly, the plan was aimed at adopting the common core from the very beginning. In a letter by Patrick Gamble, UA President to U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan that is part of the NCLB Waiver (aka the Elementary and Secondary Act Waiver), the role of Achieve Inc., defined who was involved in the standards writing process.

“…Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Staff coordinated with Achieve, Inc in the initial planning stages, of the standards revision process in 2010. Staff from Achieve reviewed Alaska’s revision plan and provided feedback via phone conversations and teleconferences. Achieve provided critical guidance for consideration of appropriate stakeholders, identifying key decision makers, and process-specific tasks, which Alaska incorporated into the review.”

The meeting facilitators Dr. Brian Gong and Dr. Karen Hess, mentioned in the Gamble letter in (2) have a background in psychology. They work for the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Inc (NCIEA). NCIEA has worked hand in glove with SBAC, as evidenced in New Hampshire In particular, Dr. Karen Hess works closely with Dr. Linda Darling Hammond, the Senior Advisor of SBAC as evidence on page 2 of this document from SBAC.

The meetings and their results are still available through the “Way Back Machine.” The Delphi technique used with this select group of educators did not focus on writing standards. Rather than writing standards, a select group of teachers were given “curriculum crosswalks.” In this exercise, only two choices are given, and there is no consideration of the vast universe of other possibilities. It should be noted that the math teachers did not approve the common core standards, and few of the English teachers did. Yet, our Alaska Standards were remarkably like the common core.

These meetings were by invitation only, and were not available to all teachers. Only Achieve approved teachers were allowed to participate. The screen show below is one of many examples of how these standards were undertaken by secretive means. Notice, they were even called Common Core, meetings and that they were by invitation only.

March 27, 2013 Workshop

The Alaska Department of Education’s meeting minutes for December 15-16, 2011 note that the Common Core Standards were the basis of the Alaska standards, and that there would be a publicity campaign around the roll out of those standards to convince Alaskans that these standards were “Alaskan made. “ I refer you to page 3, 4A1 of those notes

“Commissioner Hanley said he was excited about moving the new standards forward, because it was important to be able to compete. He said the Common Core expects you to take them as they are with few exceptions. … Mr. McCormick reviewed the roll-out plan, saying Alaska was due for a standards revision before the Common Core was brought forth. He said the Common Core was used as one of the references in the process and that it would have been irresponsible not to.”

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSSO) issued memos on the “draft” standards and the “final” standards showing they were quite close to the Common Core. Indeed, it is noted that the literary selections were scrapped and replaced with informational texts, and that math standards were stripped of math table memorization and other features of the Alaska Math Grade Level Expectations, that bore NO RESEMBLANCE to the Common Core before they were morphed on AK DEED’s Server into the Common Core.

Race to the Top funds are involved in Consortia membership, despite AK DEED’s claims to the contrary. One need only look at the race to the top website to make that determination, screen shot.


There can be no doubt that Alaska’s adoption process was aimed at adopting the common core and getting the grant money. It was not aimed at remediation or improving instruction for college and career readiness.
Does this 6th grade math page from Anchorage look more “rigorous” or ridiculous to you?
6th grade big ideas 2

Why Not the Common Core?

It is noteworthy that states have been fleeing the consortia and the common core. Michigan has paused and is re-writing their standards. Massachusetts has paused implementation. Maine and Florida left the consortia via executive order and they are fighting to get the common core out of their state with the assistance of both the governor and the legislature. Georgia left the consortia and is re-writing their standards. Alabama and Utah left the consortia, and there are active movements to get the common core out of that state. Pennsylvania has an effort to rescind the core as well, because oil companies like Exxon and Anadarko have thrown considerable support behind the core making the job of Senate Democrats difficult. (Note: Mike Hanley’s brother, Mark Hanley, is a lobbyist for Anadarko). New York State has what could be termed as a rebellion, and the rejection of the common core was decisive in the school board elections in Buffalo, New York as well as in the Mayor’s race in New York City. Governor Cuomo is a major advocate of the Common Core nationally, along with his anti-gun agenda.

Because the consortia infiltrate a state with teams of consultants and lobbyists, once the consortium in the state, it becomes practically impossible to get it out. Even after states leave the consortia they attempt to form district level alliances and coopt boards of education. There are often staff positions that suddenly appear on the payroll of the consortium, not the state.

Even more concerning, the consortium has received no additional funds. They will be looking for funding sources.

In addition to the money, there are solid mental health and academic reasons not to implement the common core.

The developmentally inappropriate nature of the common core has had disastrous results in New York and in other parts of the country. The increase in suicides and clinical depressions that have accompanied the implementation of the common core are well documented. One researcher who has been tracking the impact of the standards on mental health is Mary Calamia. Her research shows a marked increase in self-mutilating behaviors, insomnia, panic attacks, depressed mood, school refusal, and suicidal thoughts during the state exam cycle last spring.

Specifically there has been:

“300% increase in new referrals of adolescents who are self-mutilating. The majority of these newly referred youngsters are honors students with no prior history of self-mutilation.
300% increase in new referrals of elementary school children due to school refusal and anxiety. The majority of these children say they feel “stupid” and “hate school.”
A significant increase in parents complaining that the educational system is driving a wedge between them and their children.”

More extensive evidence comes from SBAC states. The evidence from the pilot by Dr. Gary Thompson clearly shows a clear pattern of “cognition abuse” by the common core. His testimony from the State of Wisconsin in October 2013 is on line.

Putting these standards in Alaska, which is already rife with mental health issues, is irresponsible and dangerous.

Further, a comparison of the most recent PISA scores is insightful. Florida fully implemented the common core two years ago, whereas Massachusetts has been in pause mode, and Connecticut entered at roughly the same time as Alaska. An examination of the PISA shows that these latter two states performed at the top internationally. In contrast, Florida did not. As former Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education for Bush and Clinton stated,

“The PISA scores burst the bubble of the alleged “Florida miracle” touted by Jeb Bush. Florida was one of three states–Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida–that participated in the PISA testing. Massachusetts did very well, typically scoring above the OECD average and the US average, as you might expect of the nation’s highest performing state on NAEP. Connecticut also did well. But Florida did not do well at all. It turns out that the highly touted”Florida model” of testing, accountability, and choice was not competitive, if you are inclined to take the scores seriously. In math, Florida performed below the OECD average and below the U.S. average. In science, Florida performed below the OECD average and at the U.S. average. In reading, Massachusetts and Connecticut performed above both the OECD and U.S. average..”

If the goal is first class educational standards by accepted international benchmarks, the standards in Massachusetts are far superior to the common core in every respect. The standards in place in Massachusetts were put in place largely by the efforts of Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who testified before this committee on January 7th.

Let’s examine how the common core and the Massachusetts standards compare:

“Massachusetts expects students to achieve fluency with addition and subtraction using the standard algorithms by grade 3. Both California and Common Core expect students to achieve fluency with addition and subtraction using the standard algorithm by grade 4.Both California and Massachusetts expect students to reach fluency with multiplication using standard algorithm by grade 4, and fluency with division using the standards algorithm by grade 5. In contrast, Common Core expects fluency with multiplication using the standard algorithm by grade 5, and fluency with division using the standards algorithim by grade 6. “

The delay in division is not a small matter they contend.

“First, grade 6 is commonly the first year of middle school in this country and deferring fluency with division to grade 6 removes responsibility for complete fluency of operations with integers from the K-5 elementary school. Common Core’s deferral of the division algorithm to grade 6 creates the potential for underdeveloping the foundations of division in elementary schools that lack accountability for that skill. Second and more important, grade 6 in Common Core focuses on the development of a major mathematical topic: ratios (and ration reasoning like rates and use of percents). Deferring learning of the division algorithm to grade 6 means that students tackle this new and demanding concept without complete fluency with division, which may undermine their ability to learn the new concepts of ratio and proportional thinking.”

While the Alaska Standards claims division is in the 3rd grade, this cannot be regarded as a serious standard. There are no preceding standards that requires proficiency in the other operations upon which division is built. What is meant by that standard is “sharing” problems not real division. I encourage every legislator to actually sit down and look at the curriculum being implemented and see what passes for ‘division’ in the 3rd grade common core.

Last, but certainly not least, the definition of College and Career ready are not what most people think. These standards are not college or career ready. Jason Zimba, at the Massachusetts Board of Education testified that these standards are not STEM ready or ready for competitive colleges.

Random Observations and Conclusions

I think Dr. Stotsky and Milgram gave excellent advice to our state. Anyone who has entered university study or a trade will find that mathematics preparation place a large role in what a student majors in an in their overall level of success. Even looking at a campus, it is apparent from grant money where the math intensive majors are located. The distinctions between upper campus and lower campus are not an accident; math determines where you land. The distinction between the Gruening building and the rest of the campus at UAF has always been apparent; those in Gruening have lesser math skills.

With rare exceptions, those with the best mathematical skills major in physics, engineering and the sciences. The hierarchy of majors on the any college campus is readily apparent. The level of math preparation has, for far too long in this state, been wanting, closing the academic door to minorities and women and the vast majority of Alaskans. Math is so important that internationals who can’t even speak English well enough to order a burger teach in our universities. This should speak volumes to our legislators. There is an imperative to act for our children’s future.

Anyone who is against increasing math standards clearly favors poverty for that group denied, because in all due honestly, one is condemned to low wage work with math instruction. There is no reason why Alaska should not and could not aspire to calculus or pre-calculus, by the end of 12th grade. The only reason would be a desire to continue to impoverish a select group of population and keep them poor and deny them the rights of full participation in the marketplace of opportunities.

It has been my experience in Alaska is that the math tables are not taught. Students are taught to program calculators rather than solve the problem. The standards need to be re-written with clear outcomes regarding measurable student knowledge in math, with clear concrete goals of performance. Goals like “Can solve 100 single digit multiplication problems in 5 minutes with 70% accuracy” is an example of an outcome. The focus should be on standard algorithms, not the rebranded “Everyday Math” that common core provides.

Parents need to be included in the process. Nowhere in any of this process were parents involved. The Department of Labor staff who provide remedial services should also have been involved in the process. They know where the educational dead zones lie.

We should not forget or undervalue the rich opportunities that other school activities provide. School plays, journalism, sports, music, and the arts all provide rich experiences for students that carry into other subjects. There are experiences and opportunities in these areas that allow students to refine and develop their knowledge from the classroom to practical areas. There are practical applications in math and the sciences that build on these experiences that should not be ignored.

Beyond the comments of Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram, I would recommend the re-introduction of the instruction of Latin in our schools, and some minimal amount of Greek. Science terms build on Greek and Latin. Any literacy standards in science that is not preceded by some kind of instruction on Greek and Latin root words will be ineffective. There is no reason why 4th and 5th grade students cannot gain some exposure to Greek and Latin to facilitate their literacy development in subsequent grades. Advanced math borrows heavily from Greek and the inclusion of the alphabet and vocabulary would greatly catapult student learning. I know this can be accomplished because I have done it. There are still schools that do this today, albeit private ones.

I have written extensively on the common core issue as it involves sovereignty and cost. Both at and at you will find articles on the cost of just the broadband component of the consortia. With 500 school sites in Alaska, it is likely most of them will not pass the broadband requirements of SBAC. According to ACS’s testimony on the national broadband policy (NPS) satellite back-haul, the most cost efficient means of delivering these services at the transfer rates demanded by SBAC. This costs over $200,000 per month per site. There is also a demand for computers that run Microsoft 7 operating systems at processing speeds that most school may not have available. Further, the consortia demands 1 computer per 2 students; the data will all be sent to SBAC’s facility in California. Because SBAC has an MOU with the U.S. DOE on providing detailed, disaggregated data in exchange for funding, all Alaska data will end up there.

As always, I remain at the service of the legislature should any service be requested. I receive no money from the Gates foundation or any other group. I represent no alphabet foundation or institution. At this point in my life, I am simply a citizen with an opinion that is aimed at what is best for my grandchildren, both those who have matriculated, and those not yet born. I have detailed notes on the standards that I can forward should they be desired by this committee, or the house committee.

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Time To Testify!

January 8th at 2:15, please go to your Legislative Affairs Office to testify. We need to reject the common core initiative, particularly the consortium, out of our state.

Also, please submit written testimony to

Today’s testimony was varied, but overwhelmingly from “Pro” common core sources. We did have Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Milgram testify, but they still are not letting other professionals in the state testify unless they are part of the AK-DOE team.

Please, this is our chance to take our state back from the trade groups. This is not a “Democrat” or “Republican” cause, it is the people of the state versus a technical establishment.

Parents need to speak out. They have been locked out of this process completely.

Dr. Stotsky’s written testimony is below. I will have her testimony on the internet later after the wood stove hearings.
Alaska Hearing Stotsky

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Students are Speaking Out Against the Common Core

Increasingly those students who are being subjected to Common Core are speaking up against it.

One example is a Nick Hladick, an 18 year old student who graduated in May from the Montgomery School  District in New Jersey. He filed for the seat just after graduation from high school.  He won a seat on the  Board of Education in Montgomery, Somerset County, NJ. His campaign issue? Transition schools away from Common Core.  As he wrote in his survey from the League of Women Voters,

The first challenge facing Montgomery Township schools is the implementation of Common Core Curriculum, a harmful national curriculum that undermines the abilities of students and is proven to hinder future growth and success. I would reject common core curriculum so that Montgomery teachers are are able to teach students on an individualized basis that offer new challenges and opportunities for success.

His win in the 5 way contest reflects the general angst in New Jersey against the Common Core standards, curriculum, and testing. Truth in American Education and Gateway Pundit both have additional information on the vote.

Another example is Patrick Richards, a sixteen year old student from Arkansas. His presentation on Common Core is well researched and devastating.


The first part of his presentation covers the copyright issue related to Common Core. Unlike past standards, Common Core is held under a public license rather than an open license. After taking on the license issue, Richards then moves the presentation to the question and answer session by Sandra Stotsky of Jason Zimba, the primary author of the Math Standards.

In that session, Zimba admits that the term “college ready” really means ready for a trade school or junior college, not a four-year institution. Zimba even admits that the University he teaches at would not accept a student who had completed only the Common Core math sequence.

Richards then discusses the falling test scores in Kentucky and New York. He includes the phone call from the Superintendent of Schools in New York to parents regarding the test scores. He discusses the data collection and how PARCC and SBAC have agreed to turn over their data to the federal government. Richards covers how the data is what is used to map out a student’s life and ultimate career irrespective of what they may want to be.

A unique feature of Richard’s presentation is the perspective from which it is given. He shows how his freedom to choose his path in life is eroded by Common Core. He shows how the structure of the industry has become concentrated and how government and big business are working together to form a structure of tyranny. It is refreshing to see a young man on top of the game in this way. Perhaps there is hope for the next generation after all.

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Maryland Common Core Trainers Coming to Alaska

Alert Alert Alert

According to Senator Mike Dunleavy’s facebook page:

Education and Early Development committee meetings. Tue and Wed Oct 29 and 30 at 8:30am. We’ll be hearing from the Minister of Education of Alberta Canada, which has top performing schools. Listen in to find out how they did it. Also Maryland Department of Education and many different schools around Alaska which use different approaches to education.

This is the same Maryland Department of Education that arrested Richard Small for asking an “unscheduled” question. They are implementing the Common Core, along with significant privacy abuses. This is the state that has led the way in human rights abuses against parents, students, and teachers in the implementation of the common core.

This is the same Maryland Department of Education that required students to complete this survey on line connected to their unique identifier. This is a small portion of the survey. The complete survey was read at a school board meeting that was quite well attended. The hard copy was over 5 pages. This is a sample of what was retrieved from the server by the Blaze before the school district closed the portal.

2013-14 Sophomore Survey

How many siblings do you have?

4 or more

Which House (This refers to the specific curriculum of the school)




Were you born in the United States?

What part of Montgomery County do you live in?
Poolesville (surrounding areas)
Montgomery Village

What race do you most identify with?
African American
Middle Eastern
Caucasian (White non Hispanic)
South Asian (India, etc.)
Native American
Pacific Islander

What middle school did you attend?
John Poole
Rocky Hill
Roberto Clemente
Montgomery Village
Forrest Oak

What Religion do you identify with?
Protestant (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian etc.)
Agnostic (Belief in something but unsure what)
Christian Non-Denominational

What is your living situation?
Both parents
Single Mother
Single Father
Legal Guardian/Relative
Split between parents
Parent and Step Parent

What is you household income (in US dollars)?
Less than 50,000
More than 250,000
I have no idea

What is your sexual orientation?
Not sure
Other (transgender, asexual, pansexual, etc)

Parents’ Political Identification
I have no idea

Highest parent education level
Non High School Graduate
High School Graduate
Some College
College Graduate
Post College Degree (MD, PhD, Masters)
I do not know

On average your grades are?

Marijuana in Maryland should be
Legal for all uses/purposes
Legal for medicinal reasons only (prescribed by doctor/physician)
Not legal

Which best represents your feelings/sentiments about Obamacare?
Beneficial to everyone
It benefits the poor only but that is okay
It benefits the poor only and it hurts the economy
It is the worst thing to happen to America in a long time
It is neither good nor bad
no opinion

Should students have to complete an environmental service project to graduate High School?

Should the sale of assault rifles be banned?

Should Maryland have the death penalty?
Do you think same sex couples should be able to marry in Maryland?

The school day should begin and end at which of the following?

Should the National Government require states to allow same sex marraiges?

Who is primarily to blame for the government shutdown?
Equally to blame
President Obama

The condition of the U.S. economy is best described as…
Getting a lot worse
Getting worse
Will remain the same for the foreseeable future
Getting better
Getting a lot better

Which of the following would make you the most likely to buy school lunches more often?
Salad Bar
Burrito/nacho bar
Better fries
Lower prices
Fresh Fruit/Vegetables
Food cooked at school (never frozen)
More vegetarian/vegan/gluten free choices
More choices

If President Obama were caucasian how much more or less criticism do you think he would he recieve?
A lot less
Somewhat less
No difference
Somewhat more
A lot more

Would you be willing to have more field trips if it meant a longer school year?

Which of the following should the national government increase funding for most?
Environmental Protection
Fixing the economy
National defense
Helping the poor/disadvantaged

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White Privilege Lessons– Alaska’s Future?

Wisconsin is about a year and a half ahead of non-Anchorage in implementing the Common Core. It is a good indicator to consider in looking at things to come.

Wisconsin taxpayers are starting to become aware of the social agenda that is in the Common Core Curriculum. A recent teacher conference, the CREATE program, was held to do in-service training for teachers on the Common Core materials. A featured concept in these materials is the notion that America works for whites, but not African Americans. Teachers were shown how to confront their students about their “whiteness” and to examine their “white privilege.”

There were sessions on how to teach it, how to confront it, as well as revisionist history. I wonder if Governor Scott Walker realizes what is being taught in his schools?

The first book covered is published by Zaner-Bloser, a common vendor used by public, private, and home-school families. One of Zaner-Bloser’s books featured in a session titled, Establishing Critical Thinking and Multicultural Education in Rural Wisconsin Schools. A book for the fourth grade titled The Jacket, by Andrew Clements was presented in this session. The story centers around a young white boy named Phil who sees an African American boy wearing a what appears to be his brother’s jacket.

The lesson of the book is that American society is designed to benefit white people and is stretched out over a two week period of the fourth grade curriculum. Dr. Margarite Parks of the University of Wisconsin is shown teaching the lesson in the video below. Apparently, Dr. Parks is of the opinion that children who live in rural Wisconsin need to be taught about their white privilege? Indeed, Dr. Parks believes students should begin with that book so that white students can better understand their “whiteness.”


Another Common Core book recommended for teachers to use in Wisconsin is My Name is Maria Isabel, by Alma Flor Ada. The book begins with a teacher telling a student that she would call the student Mary instead of Maria because there were too many girls in the class named Maria. Parks said,

“I had a second grade teacher who read this book, she was doing this multicultural stuff, and she’d been teaching for 32 years or something and her comment was, ‘All I can think of is how many kids I’ve hurt over the years by saying their name wrong or by changing their name so that I could say it.’ So when you talk about issues of privilege, this is a wonderful book.”

It is deeply disturbing for someone of Dr. Park’s training and education confuse language and race. Apparently, Dr. Parks has never had to muck her way through a list of Russian, Polish, and Scandinavian names on the classroom roster. I can remember in my years as a faculty member having to wade through a list of names of all sort of tongue twisters of international white students who were on various athletic teams, particularly hockey, curling, and bob-sledding. Native students had easy names like Sam Alfred or Nick Tom. The story she relates might make sense in California or Arizona, but certainly not in the northern latitudes. The lesson confuses language and color, and the two may not always go hand in hand.

Another conference session was titled, Power, Positionality and Identity in the Culturally Responsive Classroom: White Privilege and Dismantling Student Resistance. In that session, Dr. Bola Delano-Oriaran and Dr. Parks talked about the resistance they face in teaching white privilege in the Common Core classroom. Could it be this student resistance is a function of being subjugated to propaganda? Ashleigh Costello or EAG News reported of the session that,

Neither presenter acknowledged that students might have some valid criticism of the “white privilege” concept. Instead, they believe resistance is due to student ignorance, and that ignorance must be crushed.

There is an ironic humor involved in this sort of radical teaching. According to Parks, “multicultural education is about critical thinking.” Yet, both women only allow their students to engage in “critical thinking” when they are in agreement with the lesson at hand.

Other Common Core materials presented at the conference include revisionist history. Of course, Dr. Parks was all over it again, to expose “Euro-centric” curriculum. Books recommended to teachers included anti-American books such as Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James Loewen and A People’s History, by Howard Zinn. Ashleigh Costello reports that Dr. Park’s discussion of these history books as follows,

“What freedom was the Alamo fought for? How many times has the United States tried to kill Fidel Castro? What U.S. President since the Civil War segregated the White House? How many Europeans did the Black Plague kill? How many Native Americans died of disease in the Northeast following the European settlement?”

This is what taxpayers and parents in Wisconsin are having to face in the Common Core. That might be why so many Wisconsin groups signed this letter to Governor Scott Walker to pull their state out of the Common Core.

How long before it comes to Alaska?

EAG News

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