Arizona State Board Of Education Approves Rebrand Of Common Core Standards

With 8-1 vote, Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and the Arizona State Board of Education approves the rebrand of Common Core standards for the third time [Photo from ADE Facebook page]

On Monday, the State Board of Education pushed forward and approved for the second time Arizona’s brand of Common Core. Superintendent Diane Douglas, who had previously been a vocal opponent of the national standards, joined the majority of the Board in approving the Common Core rebrand.

Board member Jared Taylor, who has been consistent in his opposition to Common Core, was the lone “no” vote.

“The bottom line is that I am very disappointed that we kicked the parents to the curb and ignored the will of the voters when they elected Diane Douglas. Yet she led the way today; we just renewed Common Core,” stated Taylor.

The move to adopt the rewrite surprised members of the Governor’s Arizona Standards Development Committee. Just last week, the Committee voted to delay their approval of the standards by one month so that parents, who has been denied an opportunity to address the Committee could review the hastily delivered rewrite and express any of their concerns that remained to the Committee.

The Governor’s instructions to the Committee were unambiguous. The process was to be transparent and the Committee was to receive recommendations and input from parents and incorporate them in the revisions. Instead, the process was driven by bureaucrats in the Arizona Department of Education and teachers from whom input was sought signed non-disclosure agreements that forced the work to be done outside the public’s view.

Sample Standard Revision – click to enlarge image

The writing was on the wall, according to Committee Chair, Scott Leska. A day after the Committee meeting on December 14, Leska, in an appearance on the James T. Harris show, explained how the process had become a sham and predicted the rewrite of the Common Core standards. “Unfortunately I feel betrayed, and you know what? Everyone who is trying to get rid of Common Core should feel betrayed by the Governor and Diane Douglas. It is a travesty. Wednesday is when we met. There are about 2,000 pages of the second draft that came out that they expected us to read all 2,000 pages in less than a week. We all have second jobs or primary jobs as this is a volunteer position. So we couldn’t certainly read 100% of it in its entirety with objectivity and clarity.”

Leska told Harris that he was advised that the “Governor’s office wanted this done by December so they could get it behind them.” To that end, Douglas voted against the Committee’s decision to delay approval. Still, she was in the minority and the Committee delayed approval by a vote of 8-7.

[Listen to Leska on the James T. Harris Show here]

According to Leska, despite the fact that the standards are “riddled with errors,” the Committee hadn’t “had a candid discussion on anything for the last year and a half,” and the Committee asked for a delay, the State Board voted on the standards virtually sight unseen.

In a press release issued by Douglas on Monday she claimed that the State Board of Education “(SBE) and the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) worked together to gather, process and incorporate more than 10,000 comments related to the standards, an effort that took place both before and after releasing a first draft to the public. The first draft was also reviewed by several nationally recognized technical experts, including prominent anti-Common Core authorities. Where applicable, their feedback was included in the second draft along with thoughts shared by members of the public.”

Contrary to Douglas’ claims, there is virtually no evidence either in the red line documents or the standards themselves that any parent input was incorporated. In fact, the red line documents show multiple comments from “technical reviewer” Achieve, Inc., the Washington, DC-based organization that partnered with the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to develop and advance the original Common Core Standards.

Gina Ray, a member of the Mommy Lobby and former supporter of the Common Core standards, stated, “I testified to the Standards Development Committee last Wednesday. In my comments, I brought up a concern where there are two major holes in the standards. Patterns and sequences were missing in Kindergarten and prime factorization was missing in 6th grade. The Committee acknowledged that this was a major concern and agreed that these two items were so important that they should delay voting on the standards.” One committee member asked what else might be missing. “They only received the final draft less than 24 hours prior to the meeting,” Ray said referring to the Committee. “The Committee agreed to meet in one month to cast the final vote on whether or not if they should recommend the standards to the SBE for adoption. However, the SBE voted to adopt the Common Core rebrand without waiting for the Standards Development Committee to approve them. This act tells parents that their voices do not really matter and that they have no say in their child’s education at the end of the day. The purpose of the Standards Development Committee was to allow the public (and especially parents) to have a voice and we were promised that we would be heard. We were promised transparency. However, the vote by the SBE has proved otherwise.”

[Listen to Ray’s interview on KFYI 550 here]

Jennifer Reynolds, leader of Arizonans Against Common Core, testified at the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC), “These standards were bad standards because they lack clarity; what they require is not even measureable; and they are developmentally inappropriate across the grade levels. These standards are full of “the how’s” through the prescriptive examples, many of which were requested to be put back in by technical reviewers, since the standards were poorly written and lacked clarity.”

Reynolds reminded the group that Dr. James Milgram said of the standards, ‘I have found that almost half of the [math] standards I looked at were not really standards at all, but description of the kind of pedagogy that ‘should be’ employed in covering certain topics. (Additionally, almost without exception, there is no reproducible research that shows these pedagogy methods actually work by improving student understanding of the mathematics involved.)’

So Reynolds asked the Standards Working Groups, who were reporting to the Committee, “Where is the research to support the 2106 standards and the pedagogy methods you put back into the standards? Many of the concerns, through comments from parents on the standards, addressed these same pedagogy methods and the damage they were causing children in the in classroom. Why were parent’s comments ignored?”

Reynolds had provided the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC), and SBE Executive Director Karol Schmidt, with the parents public comments on the math standards with “clear details on each one and how they were ignored in the 2nd draft of the standards. Based on these public comments I handed out, several members of the ASDC came up to me and said that is why they voted to continue reviewing these standards until January, and not approve them. By taking a vote at the SBE meeting this week, our public comments were again ignored and it shows they truly do not care what parents think about educating our children,” said a disappointed Reynolds.

Anita Christy of Gilbert Watch stated that both she and Lisa Fink, who is the mother of 6 children and serves as Board president of Choice Academies, Inc., provided hundreds of comments, none of which were cited in the final draft.

Committee member Olga Taro stated, “Throughout the process parents felt in general the standards were not developmentally appropriate, and repeatedly stated so on specific standards especially for K-3. No research was cited by the Committee about development appropriateness. The most specific a reviewer got was just typing a statement stating the “standards were developmentally appropriate.”

Sources report that Douglas, who came into office with little education experience, does not truly seem to understand the standards and as a result believes that they have changed. They report that Douglas, under tremendous pressure from the Governor to preserve Common Core, is eager to believe anything that will make the entire subject disappear.

15 Comments on "Arizona State Board Of Education Approves Rebrand Of Common Core Standards"

  1. What a SHAM! We were promised transparency. The Arizona Standards Development Committee, of which I chair, was supposed to vet these standards thoroughly prior to a vote from the SBE. This did not happen, and for the past year and a half it seems that this was just a way to keep the public from knowing the real truth. Over half of the State’s budget (your tax dollars) go to educating our children in this great State of Arizona. Now we really know what is behind this re-brand. This was to keep people in power, and money flowing into the hands of big government and big textbook and test corporations. Again, What a SHAM!

  2. Douglas and the Governor both ran on policies to dissolve common core. Let’s not forget these two turncoats at elections in 2018.

  3. What a SHAM indeed! I’m the leader of Arizonans Against Common Core and I personally testified at the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC) Meeting last Wednesday. I said, “these standards were bad standards because they lack clarity; what they require is not even measureable; and they are developmentally inappropriate across the grade levels. These standards are full of ‘how to’s’ through the prescriptive examples, many of which were requested to be put back in by the technical reviewers, since the standards were poorly written and lacked clarity.” Dr. James Milgram stated in his review of the standards, “I have found that almost half of the [math] standards I looked at were not really standards at all, but description of the kind of pedagogy that ‘should be’ employed in covering certain topics. (Additionally, almost without exception, there is no reproducible research that shows these pedagogy methods actually work by improving student understanding of the mathematics involved.)” So I asked the ADE Working Groups, “Where is the research to support the 2016 Standards and the pedagogy methods you put back into the standards? Many of the concerns, through comments from parents on the standards, addressed these same pedagogy methods and the damage they were causing children in the classroom. Why are parents being ignored?”

    I provided the Arizona Standards Development Committee (ASDC), and SBE Executive Director Karol Schmidt, with our public comments on the math standards with clear details on each one and how they were ignored in the 2nd draft of the standards. Based on these public comments I handed out, several members of the ASDC came up to me and said that is why they voted to continue reviewing these standards until January, and not approve them. By taking a vote at the SBE meeting this week, our public comments were again ignored, and it shows they truly do not care what parents think about educating our children.

  4. Dale Brethower | December 20, 2016 at 8:36 am |

    I’m very disappointed in Douglas; I had much higher expectations for her and did not expect her to become just another Ducey Dupee.

  5. Robert Aguilar | December 20, 2016 at 10:46 am |

    The bigger scam is that state standards are just suggestions anyway. Students in TUSD aren’t required to master them. At the end of the year, all students are promoted to the next grade level regardless of academic achievement or deficiency. It has been perfectly acceptable to ignore state law and state standards for decades.

  6. Listen to a Mom | December 20, 2016 at 11:02 am |

    The Standards Development Committee as a group didn’t discuss the final Draft standards last week. The stage was set to hear a presentation from the Dept of Ed/working groups, take public comment, and then to take a vote to adopt it.

    The supporters of the proposal who spoke were mainly people who served on the working groups who helped draft the new standards.

    Those not in support were parents who combed over the draft looking to see if FINALLY their voices were heard about their concerns. Many were alarmed when they couldn’t find their submitted comments on the website. Were they being ignored, or did their comments not make it to the hands of the working groups?

    The committee received a link to read the entire proposed final Draft in early December. Parents who had been beating the same drum of concerns for months still were still trying to get the committee’s attention at the Dec 14th meeting. Parents spoke on specific standards which caused many on the committee to pause and consider that a discussion was warranted after all. The Standards Dev Committee voted to postpone the final vote for a month (after the holidays) so a discussion could take place.

    The powers that be say the public had their time to speak. But if many of the same concerns are present from Common Core to the new Draft AZ adopted without addressing the concerns or having a dialogue, then did it matter the public spoke at all?

    AZ adopted Common Core in 2010 sight unseen. Now, AZ couldn’t wait a few more weeks to have a conversation about the results of the Draft?

    Go to the standards development website and look at the volume of information. Do you really think everyone on that committee read every single word of the proposal, the technical reviewers assessment and matched the critiques up to see if in fact the working groups took the reviewers and public’s advice and concerns in consideration? There are thousands of pages of information.

    The State Board of Ed was in charge of the website and compiling the public comment into one space. I have looked at this website many times. The public comment cannot be read in a clear way. The public’s comment was formatted poorly, truncated, and not readable. Is it because the public’s comments weren’t valued enough? The technical reviewer’s comments are all easy to read–especially Achieve Inc’s. They provided 2 lengthy documents on the website for the working groups and committee to consider. For those who don’t know, Achieve Inc was one of the original Common Core designers. Why would AZ ask Achieve to review our new standards? They helped write the original Common Core standards!

    The review of Common Core came at the request of We the People. Achieve is protecting their self interest and the investment of Bill Gates and other foundation groups whose goal it is to have standards,curriculum, and testing line up so a whole new common education market would open. It isn’t in Achieve’s best interest to have any one state, let alone Arizona go rogue and have substantially differing standards than any other common state.

    I really question what the point of having the committee was if State Board of Ed wouldn’t even honor the vote to postpone for discussion.

    In the end, SBE and others in power showed they were pushing through whatever the end work product was.

    Sup Douglas said these were the best standards AZ was going to get and maybe she’s right. But is that the same thing as having the best standards for AZ’s students?

    AZ’s outcome is no different than the other states whose Governors formed committees to review and replace Common Core.

    Gov Pence of Indiana led the way on the strategy of using a committee to review/replace of Common Core. It didn’t work in his state and many educators report Indiana made things worse.

    There are errors right now in the Draft standards adopted by State Board of Ed. Parents know it and tried in vain to call the errors out.

    I guess we’ll have to hope the powers that be figure out where the coding errors and other issues are.

    Perhaps those in power are happy to let Achieve Inc–one of the groups who wrote the original Common Core give them guidance. Achieve’s comments often reminded the working groups to not change the computer coding too much or it might confuse teachers who search online for curriculum to match the new AZ standards.

    Achieve doesn’t give teachers much credit in being able to apply the correct curriculum to AZ’s new standards.

    Perhaps that brings us back to the beginning. These standards rely on other people to “unpack” them, decode them, and explain to teachers what they mean and how to apply them. When parents had concerns, they were told: your teacher, school, or curriculum is the problem…it’s not the standards. They also implied that as non teachers, we just don’t understand education. (This goes back to Sup Huppenthal’s days.) As an aside Huppenthal spoke in Chandler that now that he is working with actual math students, he sees the folly in Common Core.) A little too late for this revelation.

    What parents understand is we are the resident experts of our children. Those who pay attention to what comes home in the backpacks, and observe what is happening in classrooms know there is a problem and these new standards didn’t fix those issues.

    It’s as if we are expected to buy the school supplies in August, pay our property taxes, and come back to clap at graduation 12 years later. In between, we are to be seen not heard.

    Ask yourself why the working groups ignored the request of 4 reviewers: Sandra Stotsky, James Milgram, Ze’ev Wurman and even Achieve who ALL said, standards should be written in plain language so a teacher could pick them up and teach them on day one, and the public and parents could understand what was being taught.

    Just wait, new rounds of training will be designed so teachers can teach these standards “correctly.” Already, a parent guide is being formed for parents who don’t speak “edu-speak.” More than one of the working group teachers who spoke about standards said they didn’t want to “dumb down the standards” for the parents.

    Yes. They said this out loud and more than once.

    Public education exists because parents have children to send to schools. We are our kids’ first teacher and share that role with teachers during the school day.

    Have we completely lost sight of who education is for and who gets to decide what it looks like?

    Across the nation, homeschooling is on the rise since Common Core’s adoption. Parents who have the means take this route.

    The majority of students will be bound by whatever AZ calls these new standards. Sad outcome for AZ students.

  7. This is an extreme disappointment. Refresh my memory, are those 9 people voted into that position or appointed by a state official?

    • STOP COMMON CORE!!!

      State board of education members are nominated by the governor and confirmed or rejected by the state senate. It’s not as straightforward as it sounds! With a governor and Senate Majority of the same party, a nomination will virtuallly be rubberstamped by the Senate Education Committee, then, ditto in the Senate Committee of the Whole.

      If the Sen. Ed Committee Chairman has a reason for rejecting a nominee, there is no hearing held, but the nominee sits on the board for one year anyway; just not for a full term. Effectively, the rejection is an acceptance for a reduced term.

      So, practically-speaking, the governor appoints and the senate rubberstamps!

      In this case, the governor directed the board to conduct the Republican Governors Common Core-entreching, Review & Replace shell game, AKA: Smoke & Mirrors! Review and replace any standard that isn’t right for Arizona – Wink, wink! The board memebers recognized the game and played along.

      The point of the Review & Replace game was to buy time for Common Core to become entrenched in our public school system directly, and in private schools and homeschools indirectly through the required AZMerit assessments.

      Sadly, many Arizonans wanted to believe that Gov. Ducey actually intended to get rid of Commom Core and they didn’t hear those of us who warned against his ploy.

      Meanwhile, Arizona’s Children were subjected to nearly two more years of the insidious, pernicious Common Core Agenda – so far! With the threat of many more years to come…

      These people work for us and our Children!!!

      Arizonans, are we going to just take this outrageous manipulation of our Children’s lives and future?!

      STOP Common Core!!!

  8. How incredibly intolerant and discriminatory. Yet another group of self-serving nazies who tolerate only the opinions of those who agree with them.

    It should be no surprise to anyone that private and charter schools are experiencing unprecedented growth, slowly shifting state school funds back into the hands of schools that more accurately reflect the values of caring parents.

    If you have kids in public schools and you don’t like their direction then you should take the time to check out some of our many excellent charter schools. When you find one you like, move your children and their state funding will move with them. Eventually there won’t even be enough money to pay H.T. Sanchez’s paltry salary. Leave them no students to govern. That’s the only way to get there attention.

  9. Stupid autocorrect! Their, not there! Sorry!

  10. Why hasn’t Governor Ducey come out and said anything about this? Wasn’t he the one that got this whole thing started in the first place? Who put together this committee? My understanding is that is was the governor’s office. What do they have to say about it? And why haven’t the committee members been coming out against the State Board of Education for passing them up?

  11. Looks like Diane is a 1 term educational superintendent?
    You sold out you’re voters out and will repay you Come election time.

  12. Diane Douglas showed herself to be a complete coward throughout this process despite issuing a press release promoting herself as some sort of heroine. She ran her campaign on one issue and only one issue: eliminate Common Core and return local control of education. When you run on a single issue, you better damn well implement your agenda flawlessly. Instead, she turned her back on the people who got her elected in the first place. Diane Douglas just hung herself with her own rope. She won’t be re-elected and I, for one, will work tirelessly to make sure she doesn’t.

  13. I’ve been around long enough to know what happens next.
    Professional development which includes a toolkit of talking points, an elevator speech about how great these new standards are, and a template of a sample letter to tell our parents how great these new standards are. There are a few new items in the standards, but not much has changed.

  14. Working Man Blues | December 22, 2016 at 2:27 pm |

    and the beat goes on. AZ Public education will continue to find themselves behind the 8 ball when any parent who is paying attention to their kids public education is left to stay in their district of record or move on. Common core is a disaster. Plain and simple Washington power grab. Some will tell you it is the greatest thing since slice bread. I say hog wash. When 2+2 doesn’t equal 4. Enough is enough. Vote out Diane D and get a real reformer in the state superintendent office. The DOE should abolished and control returned to local control.

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