Traditional Teaching vs Obama's Philosphy of Education Presented Across The Nation Through Common Core--All Parents Better Know The Difference Because The Results Will Come Home
“On Education Precipice: Texas Could Lose It All”
by Donna Garner
I am going to do my best to explain this as simply as possible.
We who care about the 5 million Texas public school students because they will determine the future of our state and even our nation have fought to get to this place in time. We now have a New Plan for everyone, and it is fair.
Without the New Plan and its accountability mechanism (including the Type #1 STAAR/EOC’s), how will parents and the public ever know whether regular public schools, charter schools, CSCOPE, Turkish Gulen Harmony Charter Schools, dual-credit courses, Texas Virtual Academy, online learning, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate programs, Web 2.0 Tools, and Safari Montage are actually moving our school children into Type #1?
Without a measuring stick – a yardstick, a ruler – how will we be able to prove that our public school students have been “pulled up” rather than “dumbed down”?
(If you are not familiar with the definitions of Type #1 and Type #2, please stop right now and go to the bottom of the page where I have posted the definitions.)
Texas now has Type #1 curriculum standards (TEKS) for the four core subject areas in grades K through 12 (English, Science, Social Studies, Math). These standards are clear and specific for each grade level/each course.
Students, parents, and teachers all know what is to be taught/learned each school year. There is no more guessing – no more fuzzy, mushy goals – no more teachers who are frustrated by not being sure what it is that they are to teach their students each year – no more students and parents who have to live in doubt and fear about what the goals for each course are.
Texas also has new Type #1 tests in the four core areas that will gauge how much students are learning and how well teachers are teaching – at each grade level/each course. These are called the STAAR tests (given in Grades 3 – 8) and the End-of-Course tests given in high school.
Texas has a new graduation plan for all students (not just the top 10%) that will produce graduates who have a large body of knowledge and skills upon which to stand as they go into adulthood.
The problem is that a “virus” has spread through the Texas Legislature, and this virus has been exacerbated by those who are trying to escape personal responsibility.
Texas public schools have been locked in Type #2 since 1997 (and even way before). Because the 1997 TEKS and the tests built upon them (the TAKS) were Type #2, then instruction in classrooms has been centered on Type #2.
It is Type #2 that has produced graduates (and drop outs) that frustrate the business community and the colleges/universities because of the lack of basic skill abilities in those coming out of our public schools.
The way to “fix it” is to do exactly what the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education, working with the Texas Education Agency, have done: Establish clear, grade-level-specific, knowledge-based Type #1 goals, expect the teachers to teach Type #1 curriculum, and measure students at each grade level to make sure teachers and students alike are held accountable.
However, there are some people who do not want to be held accountable. Some school administrators are afraid their schools cannot measure up to the New Plan; some teachers do not want to create new Type #1 teaching units; some students are afraid of being held accountable to the new Type #1 tests (STAAR/End-of-Course); some parents are worried their children cannot perform well on the new tests.
The culmination of all of this fear has been targeted at the Texas Legislature. The intent of these groups who are looking for an “escape route” from personal responsibility is to manipulate the Texas Legislature to get them to undo the New Plan.
Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock’s HB 5 is the result (announced on 2.6.13 -- http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB5
HB 5 would take away the personal responsibility. It would undo the new graduation plan that requires all students to take core curriculum courses (i.e., 4 x 4). The new graduation plan allows students to take plenty of electives that they can choose for themselves. (Please see the article posted toward the end of this article that explains the new graduation plan.)
Texas does not need to move to a 2-track system where the top 10% get a quality education and the bottom 80% go out into the world unprepared academically for college and/or the workplace. “We have been there, done that.” That is what has been happening in Texas for the last 16 years.
What Texas must do is to “hold the ship steady” and see the New Plan through unto completion.
Let the grandfathered TAKS testers (this year’s juniors and seniors) move on through the high schools. This year’s sophomores on down are under the New Plan.
Let teachers work hard to create new Type #1 curriculum units K-12. Let them adequately teach their students the new, mandated curriculum standards (TEKS) at each grade level.
Let the students learn to master the new Type #1 standards at each grade level. Let the students experience the joy of success as they grow stronger in their Type #1 abilities. Let them see that as they master the Type #1 curriculum, they will do better each year on their Type #1 STAAR/EOC’s. Let them see that hard work will produce ever-improving test scores and greater opportunities in all areas of their lives.
Let parents see the confidence build in their children as they learn Type #1 knowledge and skills and then demonstrate that on their tests and in their daily lives.
If we in Texas ever want to see our public school children turn into well-educated adults, we must go through this transition period without losing our courage in the midst of change.
If the Texas Legislature backs down now, dumbs down the standards, waters down the expectations, and allows everyone to escape personal responsibility, we will pay the price for generations to come.
The way to make sure that everyone is held to a standard is to measure progress at each grade level on the same Type #1 measuring stick -- the STAAR/EOC’s. If all involved know the measuring stick is coming, they will obviously try harder to be prepared. It is this day-to-day effort that will reap eventual rewards. Without the publicly released STAAR/EOC test scores at the end of each course (Grades 3 – 11), students and teachers will become less motivated. That is called “human nature.”
Rep. Aycock’s HB 5, unfortunately, goes right along with human nature; and if this bill is allowed to pass, in ten years we would be right back at this point trying to redeem the public schools from failure once again.
Already the present 10th graders who took the STAAR/EOC’s in Spring 2012 are improving their scores.
Last spring, just 54.4% of ninth-graders passed the English I Writing test. After two retest dates, the passing percentage is now up to 72.6%. (The English I Writing test is the lowest on the five end-of-course exams.) Algebra I has improved to 84.7%, English I Reading to 81.2%, Biology to 91%, and World Geography to 84.8%.
According to results compiled by the Texas Education Agency, the subject area with the highest STAAR passing rate at each grade level includes:
3rd Grade: Reading (76%)
4th Grade: Reading (77%)
5th Grade: Reading (77%) and Mathematics (77%)
6th Grade: Mathematics (77%)
7th Grade: Reading (76%)
Grade 8 – 80% passed the STAAR Reading test, 76% Mathematics, and 70% Science.
This has come about because both students and teachers have begun to take the Type #1 standards and tests seriously. They have begun to quit looking for an "escape route" and are settling in to focus on Type #1.
Many teachers have already told me that they really like the new Type #1 standards because for the first time in 16 years, they now know what to teach; the mushiness and lack of clear direction is gone.
English teachers have told me that the new textbooks adopted and based upon the Type #1 English standards are the best they have ever seen in our Texas schools.
Even some of the students have begun to speak out, and say they like the new STAAR/EOC’s because they feel the tests actually test them more fairly on what they have been taught at each grade level. The students like the fact that most of the test questions, even though more rigorous and thought provoking, have definite answers – not mushy choices.
Who in their right mind would not want our Texas public school students to learn the following?
RESULTS OF TYPE #1
If we want our public school children to learn to read well, we must have Type #1.
If we want them to be able to speak and write English well, then we must have Type #1.
If we want them to be patriotic citizens who revere the Founding Fathers and know and honor the Constitution, then we must have Type #1.
If we want our graduates to be knowledgeable voters who know history and can analyze current events based upon the past and the present, then we must have Type #1.
If we want our public school children to recognize that they and the whole world were created by a Higher Being, then we must have Type #1.
If we want our public school children to know their math facts to automaticity, then we must have Type #1.
If we want our public school children to be able to do well in foreign languages, then we must have Type #1 that teaches the phonetic sound system and grammar/usage in English so that they can apply that to their foreign language learning.
If we want our public school children to read the great pieces of literature that have connected our country to past generations, then we must have Type #1.
If we want our public school children to have the skills and knowledge they need for college and/or the workplace, then we must have Type #1.
If we want to turn out scientists who are well read, logical, analytical, and who can write down their scientific conclusions, then we must have Type #1.
If we want our graduates to be able to write compositions built upon facts and persuasive techniques, then we must have Type #1.
If we want our high-school students to know how to research a topic and then put that information into well-written text, we must have Type #1.
If we want legislators who are well read and who have a deep understanding of world history/American history/U. S. legal system and how those apply to current events, then we must have Type #1.
I am not going to belabor the point any further. Either we as Texans want what is best for our public school students even though they may have to work harder to get there, or we are going to give them an “escape route” (Rep. Aycock’s HB 5) that will drag our state (and nation) down deeper into the abyss of wasted opportunities.
I beg you to read the following two articles in which I have given more details to help you understand the seriousness of this decision over HB 5:
12.3.12 – “To Gripers: Let New Plan for Texas Public Schools Continue” --
11.28.12 – Texas Does Not Want a Two-Track System But Wants All To Be Educated Citizens” -- http://nocompromisepac.ning.com/profiles/blogs/texas-does-not-want-a-two-track-system-in-high-school-but-wants?xg_source=activity
TYPE #1 vs. TYPE #2
*My terminology and definitions:
(1) Type #1 Philosophy of Education: Knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level-specific content that is tested largely through objectively scored tests -- These standards (TEKS) are built from K through Grade 12 and are taught mostly through direct, systematic instruction. The new TEKS adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education since May 2008 are Type #1, and the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests built upon the new TEKS are Type #1.
Type #1 standards could be referred to as the traditional method – the method of teaching that people perhaps 50 years old and older experienced when they were in school. This included the teaching of phonics, grammar, correct usage/spelling, cursive handwriting, classical literature, expository/persuasive/research writing, the four math functions taught to automaticity, fact-based and discreet courses in Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Calculus, U. S. History, World History, Botany, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry.
(2) Type #2 Philosophy of Education (adopted in July 1997 and reflected in the TEKS and TAKS) -- Project-based, subjective (emphasize cognitive domain – beliefs, opinions, emotions), subjectively assessed based upon the value system of the evaluator -- emphasize multiculturalism, political correctness, environmental extremism, diversity, social justice agenda -- These standards are built backwards from Grade 12 down to K (similar to trying to build a house from the roof down) and are taught mostly using the constructivist (project-based) approach.
Type #2 can be seen in Obama’s social justice agenda (i.e., Common Core Standards) that includes an emphasis on subjectivity, feelings, emotions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, social engineering, globalism, evolution, sexual freedom/contraceptives instead of abstinence, environmental extremism, global warming, victimization, diversity, an acceptance of the normalcy of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender lifestyle, redistribution of wealth, a de-emphasis on -- factual knowledge, the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Founding Fathers, and American exceptionalism.