Arizona Standards Development Committee Working On Faulty Premise

By Itasca Small

The bulk of the February 4th, Standards Development Committee Meeting proved the premise that the “educators” on the committee are working from faulty premises!

There is stunning confusion among the ‘educator’ members of the committee. Please remember as you read further that these people are responsible for ‘educating’ your children!

As the meeting got under-way, members began the discussion. Following is my treatment of the conversation with asides and paraphrasing as I recall it aided by quotes and near-quotes from my notes. Brackets are intended to identify some of my asides.

Conclusions reached during the ADE opening presentation: “There’s a difference between curriculum and standards . . . It takes a number of years of training to understand this principle. . . .” [Ohh, we’re supposed to think that Common Core standards stand-alone and can be plugged into existing curricula! . . .]

But, Lay State Board Member/Charter School official [a contradiction in terms], Jared Taylor, says, “There are things in these standards that guide away from other curriculums.”

A couple of comments later: “That’s because of the ‘i.e.’ examples included with the standards that could be construed as pedagogy: [as the reader concludes] ‘this is going to be on the test.’” Nearly quoting Chairman Leska.

“In Common Core Math, when a pupil gets the right answer but doesn’t use the correct process, he gets a zero, because he used the wrong pedagogy.” Roughly quoting Supt. Douglas. [As long as they show that they followed the right process, the ‘wrong’ answer is counted correct!]

“Common Core is a process,” aptly speaks Dr. Robershotte. [So true! It isn’t about the standards! It’s about the process—the pedagogy.] And, “A standard is a process.” [Huh? Isn’t
a standard ‘What’ you seek to achieve? not ‘How’ you seek to achieve it?]

“A standard is a process; how is that ‘How?’”

“We’re supposed to be working on the standards! Isn’t that ‘What?’ not ‘How?’”

Says, Chairman Leska, “Leave the ‘How’ to Common Core, not the ‘What.’ We’re focusing on the ‘What,’ the simplicity of the ‘What.’” [Ah, hah! Which must mean the standards are the ‘What,’ because isn’t that what the committee is focusing on . . . ?]

They discussed the question, How is a standard the ‘How’ and not the ‘What?’

[It isn’t! And, if a standard gives examples aren’t they, ‘What?’ Well, noooo, not exactly. But, by the educators’ ‘standard,’ it could make the ‘standard’ cross-over into pedagogy—and that is how a standard becomes ‘How?’ Uhh, that is exactly ‘What’ Common Core-aligned curricula does! And the so-called ‘standards’ are wolves in sheep’s clothing! The True Nature of National Standards lurks beneath that fluffy white wool! The entire flock is nothing more—nor less—than tools the behavioral scientists devise to reduce your child to the lowest common denominator: the Common Core of mediocrity created to supply the perverted version of Human Capital to the businesses and industry represented by crony capitalists, chambers of commerce and the recent past and present governors, some legislative leaders, and past state superintendents.]

In order to teach the Common Core standards, teachers must be ‘trained’ at-length.

[At great expense because the Common Core-perverted version of constructivism is counterintuitive— to ‘train’ the ‘How’ of the Common Core Agenda into pupils, so they will emulate the ‘What.’ Thus, using the perverted form of constructivist pedagogy to ‘instruct’—not ‘teach’—using ‘the How,’ on pupils so they can be ‘trained’—not educated—in the ‘What’ that keeps them on the career pathway that Common Core ‘assessments’ are supposed to be used to direct them on, toward their future college or vo-tech ‘training.’ I apologize if this is confusing! Now, I know how pupils being indoctrinated with Common Core-aligned curricula feel!]

If a standard says a pupil must meet given criteria to be considered proficient, isn’t that, ‘What?’ Chairman Leska did say, “We are focusing on the ‘What,’ the simplicity of the ‘What.’”

And, Dr. Mari Koerner said, “Simplicity is clarity. If we have clarity, then, we have simplicity.”

A great segué into the Subcommittee Reports. If you’re an ‘educator’ you have to learn how to dazzle the masses with your fancy footwork. Well, I’m no simpleton when it comes to
understanding all those big words and deep concepts, in fact, I actually enjoyed Dr. Patrick Thompson’s condescending assessment of the linear thinking We the Little People wouldn’tcomprehend if he tried to explain it to us. I was intrigued and wanted to know more! But, he was just letting us know that it would be a waste of his time to continue.

The High School English Teacher informed us that there is nothing wrong with Common Core Standards requiring a heavy emphasis on nonfiction instructional texts—you know, those instruction manuals that your child is learning to read instead of classical literary fiction—because, “Reading fiction is just for pleasure, and after he ‘graduates’, reading
informational texts is most important!”

After all, ‘he’ is being trained for a career, not educated for a wondrous life of continually acquiring “knowledge” and applying it to whatever path HE MAY CHOOSE FOR HIMSELF!

This English Teacher has no concept that reading fiction is the best method for learning and expanding one’s grasp and use of human language ever devised by Man. (Other than
reading/studying “The Holy Bible.”) The most effective means of learning to ‘see’ the world in which we live, acquire vocabulary, become a terrific speller and ‘intuitively’ write correct grammatical structure, is reading fiction and the Bible. Does she not want her pupils to live full, rewarding lives?
Then, the committee began to contend over what their charge is: “What are we supposed to do? Are we supposed to look at only standards for which we received public comments? How do we address public comment versus our own expertise?” [After all, we do know best.]

It is now nearly one year after the Members of the State Board of Education were tasked by Governor Ducey—wait, isn’t he the ‘governor,’ who has NO constitutional authority to direct any entity regarding Education in Arizona?—to review each and every ‘standard’ imposed upon Arizona’s children with the Common Core State Standards Initiative. After review of each ‘standard’ the committee is to recommend replacements for each one that doesn’t measure-up to Arizona’s public education needs.

Sounds like a simple concept that could take an inordinate amount of time. Here’s another place they could use Dr. Koerner’s observation, “Simplicity Equals Clarity.” Only, these ‘educators’ haven’t a clue as to why they are talking about the standards, much less what they are expected to be ‘doing’ with them!

“Aren’t we supposed to be looking at just the standards about which we receive specific public comments?”

Nooo, “Can someone read the governor’s directive to the committee so we can all remember what we’re supposed to be doing? Thank you!” Parent Representative/Mom finds the directive on her Smartphone and reads it to refresh the ‘educators’ short memories: Review each standard and immediately recommend replacing any and all that don’t measure-up! (Paraphrased)

The ‘educators’ just could not comprehend what that charge really meant! And, these people are supposed to be ‘educating’ your children!

There were comments on whether the standards should take a constructivist approach to Mathematics, or if should they use direct instruction. [Actually, they would do well to ‘teach’
rather than ‘instruct’ or use constructivism. The latter forces a pupil to try to figure-out for himself ‘What’ math is and ‘How’ to perform its functions, before his natural development is ready to do so.]

There were references to Saxon Mathematics for STEM graduates, and someone invoked epistemology—a fascinating branch of philosophy that investigates all the different aspects of human knowledge acquisition and use.

What did these comments do to advance the purpose of the committee? Nothing that I heard in that meeting.

At one point, the ‘educators’ talked more about ‘instruction.’ Now, it’s important to know that there is a difference between instruction and teaching. The former is used to ‘train’ a student to perform a task, a trick, a job, etc. The latter is used to ‘educate’ a pupil in preparation for choosing his own path and following it wherever it may lead.

An audience is instructed; a consumer is educated—I realized, as I listened to one lady ‘educator’ come-down from her ivory tower to instruct us.

Have you ever wondered, as did I in Grade School upon first hearing of our State Superintendent of Public Instruction, W. W. “Skipper” Dick, why the title is “of Public  Instruction?” Why not “Education,” I wondered. . . . It’s because the purpose of progressivism’s form of public education has always been intended as instruction for job training, not education for a full and meaningful life.

It is the Instruction Mentality that has brought our public school system down to the depths of the lower ranks among the States. As we seek to rescue our system of public education, we would do well to change the name of our office to State Superintendent of Public Education.

And, the Big Question was finally asked, What is the Timeline for reviewing and replacing the Common Core Standards in Arizona? ADE representative, Carol Lippert, protested that they are “. . . only now starting on the standards,” and have “Really just begun to do the revision.”

There is no way they can provide a Timeline at this point! Nearly a year after Governor Ducey’s directive was issued.

From the confusion and condescension I witnessed, the purported goals of the Arizona Standards Development Committee will never be met as long as the ‘educators’ have a major role in its work. Could that be the point?

I never thought this Smoke & Mirrors Game was intended to actually end Common Core in Arizona. The tragedy is that Arizona’s Children are being subjected to the evils of the Common Core Agenda while Rome burns and Nero fiddles. Our Legislature plays games with the Constitution and refuses to acknowledge the clear structure of our public school system—for which, they have ultimate responsibility—while aiding and abetting the Governor’s deliberate usurpation and consolidation of our elected State Superintendent’s executive authority into the appointive State Board of Education: an “IT,” the members of which are pretending that “it” is a state agency under the authority of the Governor.

They all fiddle while our Arizona public school system burns in the Destructive Fires of Common Core, and it is the children who are suffering the consequences of their folly.
The ‘educator’ Members of the Standards Development Committee need to check their faulty premises and discover what it is they are supposed to be doing.

3 Comments on "Arizona Standards Development Committee Working On Faulty Premise"

  1. Dale Brethower | February 16, 2016 at 8:01 am |

    Thanks, Itasca Small! Appreciated your take on the ineptness of folks on the Standards Development Committee. Almost a year and they haven’t figured out what their charge is! Or agreed upon what “What” is or what “How” is. Or what “Standards” are or what the word “Development” means. Sad.

    A couple of quibbles, from someone with advanced degrees and years of classroom experience, preschool through graduate school: Direct Instruction is highly effective at getting students to fluency in the very basics. (If done competently, which it often is not, according to the research findings.) Once students have the basics, then constructivist approaches can be very effective. Effective constructivist instruction is NOT “flounder around in ignorance until you happen to trip over a principle.” It is more like “apply the basics to discover how to use the principle to achieve specific results, sometimes ours, sometimes yours” One of “ours” might be “find the flaws in this political speech” or “what are at least 3 possible unintended consequences of that policy” (I wouldn’t recommend those tasks for students younger than 10 years old, though some of them would shine.) Constructivism, at its best, is a very creative set of tactics; the most “creative” people in history were creative in constructively applying, even discovering, basic principles in their art or science.
    Not to take anything away from your well-placed dismay at the way the Committee functions. In my experience, they are like far too many educators who have been trained to say stuff, not educated in creative application of basic principles and skills. Thank you for alerting us; I hope you and I are wrong to be pessimistic that the Committee will ever do anything worthy of their charge.

  2. Back in the 1950’s, kids went to high school, graduated, and did just fine in life. Can we return to those standards, minus segregation and racism, with the addition of the use of technology? That seems simple enough.

  3. Itasca Small | February 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm |

    Thanks to Dale Brethower and Devilsown!

    First, to Devilsown: I agree; as long as we root-out the collectivist philosophy and impose safeguards against the insidious use of technology to gather personal data, psychological behaviors, opinions, attitudes, etc, and the Real-Time Computerized Adaptive Testing techniques used to discover and use that private “nontest” data.

    I was in Grade School in the ’50s, Garfield School and Sunnyside/PVES #1, Phoenix. So, I did not graduate from high school during the decade you invoke. But, I am thankful that in graduating in the mid-60s, I wasn’t too far behind that last-decade-before the collectivist agenda infused and spread its infection in-earnest like a pandemic across our Great State and Nation. I was blessed to receive sufficient “education” and appropriate “instruction” to be able to think for myself—combined with early Biblical “Education”—and be always thankful, that the combination helps me to always remain open and appreciative of any understanding and knowledge I can garner from any source.

    Which brings me to Dale Brethower’s comments: I truly appreciate all information that expands my understanding and knowledge, especially regarding the crucial facts of what the educators are doing to our children every school day. I apologize that, in the interest of time and to avoid taking the reader too far down my notorious “sidetracks,” I didn’t expand upon the “direct instruction” comment, nor my use of perverted-constructivist perjoratives.

    I absolutely agree that not all “instruction” is bad! Of course, it holds an important place in the Education Tool Box. It is necessary to instruct, just not as the main principle upon which the Education Matrix is structured.

    Regarding constructivism, I am heartened to read your most-welcome exposition of the value inherent in the unperverted core theory of constructivism. In fact, I only learned the term recently, and found that it’s definition was quite close to my own definition of what it is to truly educate a human being—when properly applied! I took my definition from my own cogitations and was directed by an educator to constructivist theory! It is the epistemological answer to “how” I think and learn.

    The problem I see, is that collectivists have co-opted and perverted a legitimate theory as their primary tool for first deconstructing/brainwashing children as early as possible, then reconstructing/indoctrinating their minds and psyches when the world they have built from their life experiences has been sufficiently torn-down; destroying their security and confidence in their understanding of the world around them. The perverted constructivism is used to fill the voids and fears created by the deconstructing process with false history, perverted morés and flawed reasoning based upon illogical thinking. The process is designed to tear-down the natural bonds between children and their parents/family, in order to replace with them unnatural co-dependent ties to the teachers and administrators who have their “best interest” at heart. (!)

    Yes, correct use of direct instruction and constructivism is invaluable to truly “educating” any human being, but we need to redirect our public school system onto the Main Track that will actually do that!

    You said: “In my experience, they are like far too many educators who have been trained to say stuff, not educated in creative application of basic principles and skills.”

    I present your astute observation as Exhibit A; you have perfectly described the results of deconstruction/brainwashing and reconstruction/indoctrination effected in the successful efforts of collectivist/progressives gradually accelerated over the past century!

    Now, we are witnessing their application of the fruit of their indoctrination “on steroids” to the hearts, minds and souls of America’s Children through the Common Core Agenda!

    They have the Pedal-to-the-Metal, and are careening at lightspeed ahead, toward their imaginary Collectivist Utopia!

    And it is Arizona and America’s Children who suffer the inevitable consequences. . . .

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