Mar 17 2013

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Stopping Common Core: What You Can Do NOW!

What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty & Learning, each leaning on each on the other for their mutual and surest support? ~ James Madison


Rotten to the COMMON CORE


Grassroots in Michigan will be bringing you information on education in Michigan and educational topics from grassroots activists and experts nationwide.

The message below is from activist Melanie Kurdys who is mobilizing interested citizens to help pass HB 4276 to stop Common Core in Michigan

Thank you for all you do, you are the heart and soul of a free Michigan.

Joan Fabiano
Grassroots in Michigan




We have been busy meeting with Representatives mostly, some Senators.  Looks like we will not try to get a companion bill going in the Senate. Still, contacting your senators, if you have not done so, will prepare them.

Find your Senator HERE

Your contacts have been helpful.  Thank you.
We are now moved to the House Education Committee

Location: Room 307, House Office Building, Lansing, MI
Clerk Phone Number    Ben Cook 517-373-2002
Date  Wednesday, 3/20/2013
Time  10:30 AM

We are assembling a team of folks to testify.  National experts are on our list. We are also inviting home schoolers.  We especially need teachers and administrators from Michigan, so any you believe might testify should contact me.

If anyone can not physically attend the meeting, you can testify by emailing your testimony to the  Committee Clerk at bcook@house.mi.gov. Tell the Clerk to enter your e-mail into public testimony.

Here are some resources I have assembled and have been sharing.  Please don’t think you  have to become an expert at every angle of Common Core.  Pick the issue that most concerns you and express that passionately.  They will get the message.  On the other hand, if you have a specific concern, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Melanie Kurdys

1) Comparison of Michigan Standards to Common Core

2) Overviews:

Neal McCluskey: The Folly of Common Core Curricula

Closing the Door on Innovation

3) Analysis of Common Core and liberty

4)  Concerns about the standards themselves  – The Common Core Math Standards

5)  Impact on Home schoolingCommon Core State Standards Initiative: Too Close to a National Curriculum

6)  Costs to states (Michigan has not prepared any cost estimates.)

7) Data collection – government intrusion on our privacy

Permanent link to this article: https://grassrootsmichigan.com/?p=3005


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  1. Alicia Kubacki

    Our Michigan Department of Education does not have the resources to write quality standards! Compare manpower of that office with many in our neighboring states. Collaboration with other states and their educational leaders enhances our ability to prepare students for their future.

    Working with others makes us all better. I know we as adults frequently fail to act on one of our core democratic values we teach our elementary students -common good. Liberty is a core democratic value as well and the liberty to think critically is embedded in the CCSS.

    I really struggle with understanding why any Michigan citizen thinks it would be a good idea to dismiss the CCSS and work alone when we live in a global society. I suppose I am addressing the folks who probably want to eliminate world language and world history also. Gone are the days of Michigan’s dominance economically and educationally. Have you checked Michigan’s college graduate percentage lately? Understanding others matters. Our future requires that our children work together across boundaries not only in our country, but in the world.

    The ELA GLCEs are incomprehensible and I certainly don’t want to pull them back out.The Common Core State Standards do not hurt home schooling- they give parents more flexibility than the GLCEs and HSCSEs, not less. What is your data to suggest otherwise?

    There are a lot of things wrong with education and particularly assessment of education in Michigan, but the CCSS is not one of them.

    1. Joan

      I defer to Melanie Kurdy to answer this….


      Alicia,  Wow, you covered a lot here.  First of all, no one is asking the Michigan DOE to carry the weight on improving our standards.  They could lead a small team of well-chosen K-12 teachers, parents, subject matter experts and work together, collaboratively, to improve what we already have.  They could call in people like Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman who are offering states free assistance!!  I am all about collaborating, but collaborating with people who know what they are doing.  Collaborating with folks on ideas that have no evidence of working is like the blind leading the blind. 

      Professor Stotsky does an excellent job explaining how critical thinking skills are developed through reading and analyzing great literature.  Your are right, this is an important skill, but CCSS are unlikely to actually produce students with these skills because they cut in half the amount of time spent K-11 on literature!
      And the impact on all school choice, including home school, is in the assessments.  The definition of the “right” answer drives what must be taught, even if the answer is “wrong”.  We in Michigan will have little ability to influence , let alone control, what is contained in the assessments. 
      I appreciate the opportunity to discuss your concerns.  Melanie

      1. Daniel

        They cut in half the amount of time spent K-11 on literature DURING A SCHOOL DAY. That’s an important distinction.

        Teacher’s aren’t being told they can’t teach literature, they’re being told they need to teach literature and teach kids how to read and understand a technical manual. As an educational consultant I read a lot of informational text. My wife as a special education teacher also reads a lot of informational text. My son at the Career Technical Center reads a lot of informational text. The difference is, despite our best efforts to prepare him under Michigan’s GLCE and HSCE, he didn’t receive this instruction and as such has a hard time. And we’re educators, who worked with him from a young age. He simply did not receive instruction in IT.

        Professor Stotsky may do an excellent job explaining her point of view, but many of her “we don’t know” claims are outright false. There is a wealth of information available about the standards. I’m an educator who taught the old ELA standards…I agree with Alicia about not going back.

        I am curious…I’m not trying to be rude (realizing of course that with no tone and inflection on the Internet, that’s probably how it’s going to come across) What are your credentials in education? Where do you currently teach? How many degrees in education do you hold? How long have you been in the field of education?

        1. Joan

          I defer to Melanie Kurdy to answer this….


          You are right that students should be taught to read technical and informational texts, but this instruction should come in the science and social studies classes where non-fiction is the basis of learning.  The practice of reading and writing across the curriculum has been around for a while.  Reading comprehension and quality writing are skills students can use and develop in every class.
          English Language Arts, on the other hand, has always centered around great literature of increasing difficulty as the student progresses.  Did your son have the opportunity to study Shakespeare?  Unfortunately many schools have dropped his works as, too difficult.  My son had the incredible luck to be taught by several teachers and professors who were Shakespeare enthusiasts.  Today, my son is a successful Marketing / Corporate Strategist working for one of Fortune 500′s most successful companies. He has no trouble dissecting written material, either fiction or non-fiction, which in Marketing can be easily confused!! By the way, my son graduated from a Michigan high school and a Michigan university.
          I am not a certified teacher and I consider that an asset in these discussions.  I am a mom and a math tutor, have been for 15+ years.  I have principals call me in to help both teachers and students.  I have a math degree from University of Michigan.  I have come to deeply respect Deborah Lowenberg Ball, Dean of UM’s Education School.  She has been doing very good work determining what teachers, especially elementary teachers, need to know about math to be excellent teachers.  Most schools of education do not prepare elementary teachers well to teach math, focusing primarily on reading and literature!!
          I do agree with you that Michigan standards can and should be improved.  But we can consider other standards that have been in practice for years, and along with other important reforms in education, which have generated impressive student achievement results, like Massachusetts, where Sandra Stotsky came from.  We do not have to surrender our ability to control our own destiny in Michigan to have better educational standards and assessments.  That is the bottom line.

  2. Daniel

    From your very first link:

    The Bottom Line
    With their grade of D, Michigan’s ELA standards are among the worst in the country, while those developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative earn a solid B-plus. The CCSS ELA standards are significantly superior to what the Great Lake State has in place today.

    Yeah…lets get rid of the Common Core so we can go back to being “among the worst in the country.”

    1. Joan

      I defer to Melanie Kurdy to answer this….


      While it is true the Fordham Foundation called our ELA standards weaker, some of the assumptions they use are bad.  For example, the common core standards require ELA teachers from K-11 to teach 50% non-fiction at the expense of good literature.  Prof. Sandra Stotsky testified today that common core standards are not good, not internationally benchmarked, not demonstrated to generate high student achievement.  Yes, you are right, the Michigan ELA standards can be improved, but as Port Huton teacher, Lisa Keller, testified today, we can do that in Michigan and retain control over the standards long term. Going to Common Core, we do not retain control.  We could look to Massachusettes standards for ideas on how to improve.  Their standards were determined to be suerior to common core.
      Please note, the Fourdham Foundation called our math standards better than common core, yet our math outcomes are worse than our reading!  Bottom line, it is not about the standards at all.  It is about helping our teachers become excellent and engaging our parents.

  3. Alicia kubacki


    Are you volunteering to help the Michigan Dept of Education? They do not have the infrastructure to write 21st century college readiness standards. Our Michigan ELA standards received a grade of D when they were graded by Achieve.

    Of course informational text is in science and social studies, but when we can certainly connect informational text to whatever literature we are having students read. To Kill a Mockingbird begs us to look at racism then and now. That is the kind of informational reading students should do in their secondary ELA class.

    Shakespeare is in the CCSS and every high school teacher I know in Mid- Michigan takes on Shakapeare and will continue to do so with the new standards.

    The point really needs to be we are two years into implementation and we are moving toward more student-centered classroom. Michigan would be foolish to change now. MIT would be a disservice to our teachers and more importantly to our students.

  4. Daniel


    Before Joan defers to Melanie again, I can speak for Northern Michigan. Shakespeare is in most high-schools here too. It isn’t going anywhere. The death of classic literature argument from anti-core groups is one of the many pieces of misinformation that is spread by people who obviously haven’t taken the time to do what you and I have done: read through not just the standards, but Appendix A, B, and C

    Frankly, I feel that if we’re going to compare education state to state, as well as American education to international education, we need the same deck of cards, otherwise one organization’s top to bottom list is another organization’s research based success. The core offers that opportunity.

    It is well researched. Their bibliography has a balanced mix of recent research and long standing “tried and true” practices. With the 400 + teachers I work with I have seen over the last year and a half a shift in instruction and have witnessed some stunning student learning occur with the core.

    While I can applaud this site for exercising their civic duty, where is the outrage at all the big government policies coming out of our state legislature from ALEC? And most importantly, when are people who do not have educational credentials going to stop being the ones forcing changes on those of us who have a long successful history in their field.

  5. Joan

    We can’t we experts in every area and therefore I defer to Melanie because this is her area of expertise. I asked her to be one of the go to persons for Grassroots in Michigan on issues and legislation that pertain to Common Core.

    However you assert here:

    “where is the outrage at all the big government policies coming out of our state legislature from ALEC?”

    Big government? Can you get anymore centralized than Common Core?
    And what about the CC standards being initiated by private interests in Washington, DC, without any representation from the states? Or the US Department of Education (USED) deeply involved in the meetings that led to creation of Common Core?

    Would you care to point out any “big government policies coming out of our state legislature from ALEC?” Policies or bills please.

    Apparently your definition of “big government” is promoting voucher programs or offering intercity kids with failing schools private school vouchers or respecting that parents know what is best for their children by the freedom to home school. Why? Because it “undermine(s) teacher’s unions indirectly?”

    Does a degree automatically make you a great teacher? Does having a degree make you the parent?

    All of these policies are advocated by ALEC are hardly “big government” quite the opposite. They are policies that advocate liberty of choice to seek ways to better educate our children.

    1. Daniel

      Again, I was not trying to get snippy, nor am I here: The Common Core was led by the Governor’s association, and when written the Governor’s association was predominantly made up of red states. Was offering the Race to the Top carrot the best way of implementing it? Probably not. Big government made an oops, but did something right for a change…that would be supporting (not writing) the standards.

      An example of big government policies in Michigan: PA 436 is a massive overreach of local control.

      NCLB is another overreach, but that’s at the federal level and was enacted by a different administration and different congress. Well intentioned? Yes. Partially damaging? Absolutely.

      I didn’t define “big government” for you. I never once mentioned vouchers, inner city kids, or Unions. I’m not certain where you pulled the “undermine(s) teacher’s unions indirectly?” quote, but it wasn’t from anything I said.

      I don’t understand your “Does having a degree make you the parent?” comment, but we can agree that having a degree doesn’t automatically make you a great teacher. I have however seen the Common Core practiced by a large number of teachers, and they’re doing transformational things in their classroom. I’m doing walk-throughs at schools. I’m working with and providing PD to teachers, and they are changing practices. Some who have been teaching the same way for twenty years are changing their practice to become better at what they do under the Core.

      I can’t support, and therefore must exercise MY freedom of expression, people, even well meaning ones like yourself, who are trying to influence things politically that goes against my educational experiences and expertise. If a doctor had a research based method for saving my life, or the life of a member of my family, which was new, I wouldn’t tell him not to do it. A) I’m not a doctor, and recognize that he/she has expertise that I do not, and B) new doesn’t mean bad.

      1. Joan

        Again, I was not trying to get snippy

        Is the tip off that you are going to get snippy! Thanks for the warning LOL!

        1. Daniel

          LOL! Nope! Not planning on it.

  6. Melanie Kurdys

    OK, so Daniel, you have a business that makes money implementing Common Core? Well, that explains your support. I don’t doubt you may personally believe in what you are doing, but the financial incentive may cause others to take pause at your comments.

    You are incredibly inconsistent in your comments about big government. Let’s imagine for a moment that Common Core standards are better than Michigan. If we find things we don’t like or if the consortium makes changes we don’t agree with, Michigan will have no recourse!

    You and Alicia make the point that we are well into implementation. First of all, driving the wrong diretion, no matter how long you have been at it is dtill going to get you to the wrong place. So this time invested argument is irrelevant.

    Secondly, Michigan educators did NOT have any say in these standards. If you believe they should, then why are you not advocating that we learn from common core, debate within Michigan and revise Michigan standards? The MDE should not have the resources or the power to develop standards. What they can do is facilitate the development of Michigan standards by including Michigan educators, parents, legislators!

    1. Daniel

      I don’t have a business that makes money implementing the Common Core. I am a content consultant for an Intermediate School District, and have a teaching background in literacy, ELA, and social studies. My support of the standards comes from my own school experience (East Lansing for the win!), my teaching practice where I tried to model the kinds of teaching my teachers back in my own school days modeled (in spite of the GLCE), and my higher education coursework and studies where I have worked extensively on curriculum.

      Michigan has little recourse in changing their own standards. And teachers are given little choice in the matter already, so the change to the Common Core is nothing new for me or them. Take high school world history as one of many examples. There isn’t enough time in the year to teach everything that’s in there effectively. When the MME comes around, teachers aren’t given any useful data other than a score report that tells them the majority of their students missed six world history questions out of ten. They aren’t told in the reports which content expectations to which they align, and therefore have to play a guessing game which sets their students and them up for failure. They have no recourse for that. SBAC may be still be developing the assessment to test the Common Core, but the data they’re going to provide is far more useful, and since educator evaluations include standardized testing data, many of the teachers I work with are excited for the change. They feel that’s a much better way to evaluate than a report that simply states “you missed 6/10 and you’re going to be called ineffective.” If you can magically fix THAT problem you’ll have my undying support.

      Alicia already pointed out that there is not enough resources available at MDE to adequately address our own standards, and she is absolutely correct. If they woke up tomorrow and found a pot of money, and decided to scrap the GLCE/HSCE and start anew, there still would be minimal involvement from the teachers in the field in the process. I’m pulling on past precedence here.

      I made only one real comment about big government, and in reading back, I fail to see the inconsistency. I pointed out that I too, as a rule, dislike big government. I agreed with you that there were carrots dangled to encourage the implementation of the Common Core initially, and that that may not have been the best way of going about implementing them, but they’re here and they’re working so for once, something decent came out of having a “big government”.

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