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Lord, I thought I knew you,

   but know the winds have changed.

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Loree Brownfield

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Tuesday
Apr152014

OK SUPE BARRESI ACCUSED OF WANTING ARNE TO BULLY LEGE INTO COMMON CORE -- TULSAWORLD.COM -- 4.15.14

4.15.14 - TulsaWorld.com

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/oklahoma-superintendent-barresi-cha llenger-hofmeister-trade-barbs-over-common-core/article_f0e91b75-53f7-542d-b f83-bd2af47759f4.html

Oklahoma Superintendent Barresi, challenger Hofmeister trade barbs over Common Core

HEATED RACE

State Superintendent Janet Barresi (left) and challenger Joy Hofmeister: They're trading attacks over the Common Core education standards.

<http://ads.bhmedianetwork.com/RealMedia/ads/click_lx.ads/tulsaworld.com/new s/education/1737123794/BottomLeft/default/empty.gif/72613874416c4d68307a6741 4261735a?x> http://imagec18.247realmedia.com/RealMedia/ads/Creatives/default/empty.gif

Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 12:00 am | Updated: 8:09 am, Tue Apr 15, 2014.

By ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer

A candidate for state superintendent challenged incumbent Janet Barresi on Monday to clarify her stance on the controversial Common Core standards and whether she sought federal intervention to put down an effort to repeal those standards in Oklahoma.

Joy Hofmeister, a Tulsa Republican, said Barresi, who has long supported Common Core standards, gave differing statements on the hot-button issue at campaign appearances in Tulsa and Oklahoma City last week.

She also contended that Barresi requested assistance from the Obama administration "to bully the (state) Legislature into protecting Common Core" and then twisted the facts to serve her political purposes.

"I would like Janet Barresi to answer the question: Did she ask the Obama administration to threaten withholding Title I dollars for Oklahoma's neediest schoolchildren, and did she ask President Obama to punish Oklahoma for abandoning Common Core?" said Hofmeister, who served on the state Board of Education for more than a year before resigning to challenge Barresi's bid for re-election.

In 2010, Oklahoma became one of 45 states to adopt the Common Core standards, which are a common set of expectations of what a student should know and be able to do by the end of each grade level.

It was an initiative by the National Governors Association to ensure consistency and rigor in public schools across the country.

But critics, including Hofmeister, say the standards remove local control and will result in additional standardized testing of children.

The Hofmeister campaign released audio recordings from debates at the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County meeting on Tuesday and the GOP state rally on Saturday.

At the Tuesday meeting, Barresi said, "I support the Common Core," but at Saturday's statewide Republican rally, which was closed to the media, Barresi is heard on the recording saying she told Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, that "Common Core is dead in Oklahoma."

Hofmeister said it seemed to her that Barresi was claiming responsibility for the repealing of the national standards in Oklahoma through House Bill 3399, which has now cleared both the House and Senate in preliminary votes.

"I'm disappointed that Janet Barresi isn't telling us the entire story about her involvement with Obama's education chief, Arne Duncan," Hofmeister said. "We all know that she has worked hand-in-hand with the Obama administration to support Common Core. So what did she ask or tell Arne Duncan?

"Did Janet Barresi continue to work closely with the Obama administration to bring pressure to our state Capitol to preserve and codify Common Core within Oklahoma? Oklahoma voters deserve to know the truth behind Janet Barresi's stories."

Asked by the Tulsa World for a response, Barresi's new campaign manager, Robyn Matthews, provided this written statement:

"There's only one person who's confused, and that's Joy Hofmeister. Superintendent Barresi told federal officials that Common Core is dead in Oklahoma for a simple reason: Because Common Core is dead in Oklahoma. Superintendent Barresi is committed to replacing it with superior Oklahoma-developed standards."

Matthews went on to say that Barresi contributed money to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and John McCain, and she added, "As state superintendent, she (Barresi) has testified before Congress in opposition to federal intrusion and fought back against federal overreach at every turn. Any insinuation that Barresi is pro-Obama is absurd and proves that Joy's confusion is just a political ploy."

Asked whether Barresi had spoken to Duncan by telephone and sought any assistance with the issue, Matthews responded, "She received a phone call from him. And, no, Janet did not ask for assistance."

Andrea Eger 918-581-8470

andrea.eger@tulsaworld.com

Sunday
Apr062014

DECISION TO OPT CHILDREN OUT OF TESTING -- BY DONNA GARNER - 4.6.14

[4.6.14 -- Years ago, parents could trust Texas school teachers to teach Type #1. (Link to Type #1 vs. Type #2 Chart: <http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional -vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/> http://www.educationviews.org/comparison-types-education-type-1-traditional- vs-type-2-cscope-common-core/ )

However, as education schools, educator professional organizations, and state education agencies have moved from preparing teachers with a Type #1 to a Type #2 philosophy of education (including lots of group projects, group think, and subjectively assessed assignments), parents can no longer depend upon teachers to evaluate students' academic achievement based upon an objective standard. As a consequence, grade inflation is increasing as Type #2 rolls through our Texas schools.

Texas has the only Type #1 curriculum standards TEKS (Texas Knowledge and Skills) in the entire United States. This means that Texas' curriculum standards are grade-level-specific, knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, explicit, and measurable (ELAR, Science, Social Studies, and Math). Consequently, Texas also has the only Type #1 state-mandated tests - STAAR/End-of-Course. By law these tests have to be built upon the Type #1 TEKS adopted by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education.

The STAAR/EOC tests have mostly objectively scored questions (right-or-wrong answers tied to factual information) with a limited number of subjectively assessed questions (essays, open responses, etc.). Therefore, the STAAR/EOC's can serve as a valid way to measure students' academic achievement -- a sort of "measuring stick."

If Texas parents decide to opt out their students from the STAAR/EOC -- "measuring stick" -- how will parents know from an objective source that their child is academically prepared for the next school year based upon the grade-level-specific TEKS goals.

In the states that are committed to the Common Core Standards Initiative, both the curriculum and assessments there are Type #2; and I would definitely advise parents to opt out their students from all types of Common Core assessments (both formative and summative).

However in Texas where the STAAR/EOC's are Type #1 (as verified by trusted elected members of the SBOE who have seen and taken the STAAR/EOC's themselves), it would behoove parents NOT to opt out their students but to allow them to take the STAAR/EOC's to measure academic achievement from one grade level to the next. Besides, if Texas classroom teachers know their students are going to be evaluated on the STAAR/EOC's, teachers will pay more attention to the Type #1 TEKS and will make sure that their curriculum units reflect those Type #1 TEKS. Without "the measuring stick," many Texas teachers would teach their Type #2 curriculum units.

Bottom line: I would recommend that parents whose children are in Common Core-aligned school districts should opt out their children from any and all of the Common Core assessments. However, I would recommend that Texas parents not opt out their children from the STAAR/EOC's for the reasons given above. - Donna Garner]

4.6.14 - Waco Tribune-Herald

http://www.wacotrib.com/news/education/more-waco-midway-isd-families-refuse- staar-test/article_87be40d3-ac90-55e1-b578-c9df3c1ed975.html

More Waco, Midway ISD families refuse STAAR test

<http://ads.bhmedianetwork.com/RealMedia/ads/click_lx.ads/wacotrib.com/news/ education/1387659270/Middle1/default/empty.gif/72613874416c4d68307a674142617 35a?x> http://imagec18.247realmedia.com/RealMedia/ads/Creatives/default/empty.gif

Posted: Sunday, April 6, 2014 12:01 am

By HOLLIE O'CONNOR hoconnor@wacotrib.com

At least two more families are keeping their children from state standardized test following widespread media coverage and social media posts about a Waco couple who oppose the test and refused it for their son.

Kyle and Jennifer Massey, parents of a fourth-grade Hillcrest Elementary School student, sent a letter to the Waco Independent School District two weeks ago telling school officials their son would not be participating in the test because they oppose it for moral and ethical reasons.

Since then, parents of a Midway ISD student and another WISD student have refused the test for their children.

WISD made it clear the state sets rules for testing, not school districts, and informed the Masseys their son's test would be scored whether he took it or not, according to Texas Education Agency rules.

Eventually, the district came up with a "refusal to test" form parents can sign to ensure their children are not directed to take the test, but reiterated the tests are mandated by the state. The Masseys touted this as a victory.

"We are happy to report that Waco ISD has finally bowed to public pressure and are choosing to uphold the rights of parents who choose not to subject their children to the STAAR tests," Kyle Massey wrote on his blog.

The Masseys have encouraged other parents to consider keeping their children from STAAR testing through blog posts, a Twitter account, a video of their children telling viewers why they don't want to take the test, multiple media interviews and a parents meeting at their house.

Additionally, they created an online petition asking the TEA to "uphold the parental rights of the Masseys and all parents in Waco and Texas to opt their children out of school activities they deem harmful, including state-mandated tests." As of late last week, nearly 700 people had signed the petition.

The TEA has not yet responded to the petition, or to their initial letter, which WISD forwarded to the agency last week.

The parents of a Midway ISD fifth-grader refused the STAAR for their child by sending a letter to school officials, said Midway ISD spokeswoman Traci Marlin. The child was directed to the library on testing day and given other activities to do, she said.

Grade promotion

Fifth- and eighth-grade students must pass the math and reading STAAR tests to be promoted to the next grade, according to the Texas Administrative Code. The student could still be promoted, but will have to undergo mandatory tutoring, and a grade-placement committee would have to unanimously decide the student is ready for sixth grade, according to the code.

The mother of a Tennyson Middle School eighth-grader signed a refusal to test form for her child, so that student did not test last week. Testing continues through May, so there is a chance more parents will come forward.

The mother of the Tennyson student has two other children in the third and sixth grades who are subject to testing later this month, so they also are unlikely to test, WISD spokesman Dale Caffey said.

Sunday
Apr062014

REASONS WHY TEXAS PASTOR COUNCIL MUST STAND AGAINST SAN ANTONIO SAME-SEX ORDINANCE -- HAPC -- 4.3.14

4.3.14 - FROM TEXAS PASTOR COUNCIL - Issue 623, Vol. 1

TO: Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston;

CC: Honorable Members of Houston City Council , Houston Media

FROM: Houston Area Pastor Council (Contact: Dave Welch 832-688-9166)

DATED: April 3, 2014

The commitment you reiterated in your inaugural address to add gender and sexual preference-related categories to city non-discrimination protections by ordinance raises significant concerns and even fears among our churches. The reason for the latter is your support of the San Antonio ordinance that punishes individuals, businesses and even churches for practicing our historic beliefs.

That ordinance assaults not only the values but the basic First Amendment rights of city citizens, business owners and churches to live, speak about and practice their faith. Those who believe - including churches - that marriage should remain a union between one man and one woman, that the sex (gender) of a person is determined at birth and identified by chromosomes, genitalia and organs rather than by feelings are now second class citizens in the Alamo City.

Your re-election as mayor, having made your sexual preference a centerpiece of your previous administrations, defies that any such discrimination exists in city government. Your elevation of individuals such as transgender activist/municipal court judge Phyllis Frye and without doubt many others of the LGBT lifestyles to appointed positions illustrates this as well.

In addition, adding these categories has no legal, public policy or moral basis. Please note that gender "identity" and/or "expression" are subjective, changeable and therefore undefinable categories as the basis for a punitive ordinance.

I trust that you are familiar with the legal term "suspect class" used by the Supreme Court of the United States as a basis for extending protections against discrimination to a class of people. Any person or group can claim discrimination, however the courts have an accepted standard that we often also call "Minority Status" or "Protected Class" as follows. The class of people:

. Have an inherent trait.

. Have a trait that is highly visible

. As a class, have been disadvantaged historically. (e.g. jobs, education)

. Are part of a group that has historically lacked effective representation in the political process.

(Racial and ethnic classifications are the two suspect classifications most often given strict scrutiny.) ( <http://www.imakenews.com/eletra/go.cfm?z=hapc%2C690935%2CbspV62ps%2C6778036 %2Cbnlv8dk> www.uslegal.com)

Those who assert a sexual or gender identity DO NOT AS A CLASS have highly visible inherent traits, suffer any evidence of economic disadvantage or lack representation. Your claims and proposed plans for policy change have no legal or rational basis.

You would also leave an innumerable list of similar behaviors left "unprotected" - guaranteeing endless extension of new and equally indefensible categories. For the many Black pastors we serve who remember "Jim Crowe" and as a class suffering what real discrimination is, as well as fighting for equal opportunity against real institutional and cultural discrimination, we find this patently offensive.

The only evident basis for proposing such an ordinance would be willful intent to serve a political agenda that is not in the best interest of the city of Houston.

To Mayor Parker, we urge you to withdraw your plans to propose and advocate this unnecessary and ill-advised policy. To Houston City Council members, we ask you to go on record as opposing such an ordinance.

We humbly but firmly want you to understand that we will be compelled by the love of our God, our families and our city to defend our consciences, convictions and rights by initiative, litigation and/or the ballot box should such an ordinance pass.

In summary we fundamentally oppose adding any sexual behavior or gender "identity" to city non-discrimination policies for either city government or burdening the private sector including citizens, businesses and churches as unnecessary. Again, in overview the San Antonio ordinance:

. Forces churches and ministries, among others, to hire employees who practice or openly promote un-Biblical lifestyles.

. Places a "gag order" on current and future city appointees for any position from expressing a Biblical belief that sex outside of marriage is sin.

. Forces business owners such as photographers, printers and others to violate their conscience against such things as same-sex ceremonies and pro-GLBT promotional materials, etc. It would open up restrooms in churches and businesses to opposite gender use.

. Affirms by the power of city law that "sexual orientation", "gender identity" and "gender expression" are legitimate legal categories equal to race, gender and religion.

We have no choice but to rally pastors and business leaders throughout the city to oppose any such ordinance with all resources available and will expect city council members to vote against it for the above reasons.

Friday
Apr042014

TIME TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS: THE TEST IS NOT THE PROBLEM -- BY DONNA GARNER - 12.5.13

"Time To Ask the Right Questions: The Test Is Not the Problem"

by Donna Garner

12.5.13

http://www.educationviews.org/time-questions-test-problem/

Isn't it time for somebody to ask the right questions after reading "Texas students still struggling on slashed battery of state exams" published in the Dallas Morning News this morning (excerpts posted below)?

"Golly gee! Could the reason that so many students are not passing the STAAR/EOC tests be because over 875 school districts are using CSCOPE (rebranded "TEKS Resource System") and other digitized-but-expensive curriculum that is not in alignment with the "new" curriculum standards (TEKS) passed by the Texas State Board of Education in May 2008 through May 2012?"

"Could it be that Texas students are not prepared at each grade level for the STAAR/EOC's because CSCOPE and other digitized materials are shoddy, hit-and-miss products with assessments that are not tied to what the students have been taught previously?"

"Could it be that the Education Service Center's CSCOPE "curriculum management system" [rebranded "TEKS Resource System"] that costs taxpayers millions of dollars to purchase forces teachers to follow in lock-step a robotic system that does not allow them the flexibility to teach to their students' needs, stopping and re-teaching when their students have not reached mastery?"

"Could it be that CSCOPE does not teach a systematic approach to reading (i.e., teaching children to hear the sub-sounds of the English language and then learning how to sound those out quickly so that they can read syllables, then words, then phrases, then sentences, and then paragraphs fluently?"

"Could it be that CSCOPE also does not teach students grammar/usage/spelling/cursive at each grade level with the content increasing in depth and complexity from one grade level to the next so that students' writing and speaking abilities improve over time?"

"Could it be that students are not taught systematically how to write a correctly written expository and/or persuasive essay but instead are regurgitating personal essays based upon victimization examples that are falsified?"

"Could it be that when students do write something, their papers are not graded explicitly for content and for grammar/usage/spelling, but instead they are given a meaningless rubric score (e.g., 1, 2, 3, or 4)?"

"Could it be that because students' compositions are not graded thoroughly, they do not know what errors they have made?"

"Could it be that because students are not required to go back over their composition mistakes and correct them that they do not learn from their errors and improve their writing at each grade level?"

"Could it be that students are not reading the time-honored pieces of literature and history that will give them the background knowledge to write and speak logically and analytically?"

"Could it be that the reason so many students are doing poorly in their other classes is because they have not mastered English proficiency skills that form the basis for success in all other subjects?

Bottom line: It is obvious that the STAAR/EOC's are not the problem. The problem is that students are not prepared to take the tests because their teachers are not teaching them the right curriculum that is aligned with the TEKS upon which the STAAR/EOC's are based.

Getting rid of the tests does not solve the problem of poorly educated students who will one day go out into the world as poorly educated adults, unequipped to become capable workers and/or college students. Nor will they be equipped to become responsible citizens and members of society.

Basic skills have to be learned first before higher-level skills can be mastered. Trying to take a short-cut by avoiding mastering those basic skills will only serve to dumb down our society; our state and nation will suffer the consequences.

===========

12.4.13 - Dallas Morning News

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20131204-texas-students-still -struggling-on-slashed-battery-of-state-exams.ece

Texas students still struggling on slashed battery of state exams

By TERRENCE STUTZ

Austin Bureau

tstutz@dallasnews.com

Published: 04 December 2013 10:45 PM

Updated: 04 December 2013 11:07 PM

Excerpts from this article:

AUSTIN - The Legislature scuttled 10 of the state's 15 high school end-of-course exams that students must pass to graduate. But for many students, test results from this fall indicate that might not have been enough.

.In English I writing, less than a third of the 94,000 high school sophomores retaking the tests passed the second time. That didn't include more than 41,000 who were reported as absent. That leaves nearly 182,000 students who still haven't passed - about 45 percent of the group.

Results were similar in English I reading. Just a quarter of students who were retested passed, while at least a third of all students needing to pass were absent on the testing dates. More than 120,000 still haven't passed - about a third of those students.

The results indicate that the Legislature's sweeping changes to the state's testing regime, the STAAR, may not alleviate concerns about high-stakes tests in Texas schools.

Parents, teacher groups and others pushed for the lower number of tests, warning that schools were too driven by test results. Now, students are struggling despite the fact that the required scores to pass the tests are fairly low and the students are at risk of not graduating.

Juniors (and some sophomores) retaking the English II reading and writing exams struggled on those exams, too. Nearly 124,000 have yet to pass the writing test. About 58,000 haven't passed in reading.

.For example, students had to correctly answer.about half the questions required for English I and II reading. Cutoff scores were just above 60 percent for the two writing exams.

State education officials point out that the STAAR, or State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, is more rigorous than the testing regime it replaced, the TAKS. For example, while the TAKS required students to write a personal narrative essay, the STAAR calls on students to write expository and persuasive essays.

Minority students have generally lagged behind whites on the end-of-course tests. For example, in English I writing this summer, only 23 percent of black students and 22 percent of Hispanics passed, while 32 percent of white students earned a passing score. There were similar gaps on other exams.

By the 2014-15 school year, all high school students will have to pass the five STAAR tests.

.The State Board of Education last month backed away from a proposal to require that most high school students take Algebra II to graduate. However, all students will still have to take English III.

Follow Terrence Stutz on Twitter at @t_stutz.

AT A GLANCE: STILL STRUGGLING

Here's the percentage of current Texas sophomores and juniors who, after two testing dates, have yet to pass end-of-course tests they must pass to graduate:

English I reading: 32 percent

English I writing: 45 percent

English II reading: 18 percent

English II writing: 39 percent

Algebra I: 20 percent

Biology: 13 percent

NOTE: Students must also pass a U.S. history exam, but few have taken that yet because the course generally comes later. The English exams will be combined starting next spring; a student who hasn't passed one section will have to retake the combined exam.

SOURCE: Texas Education Agency

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

Friday
Apr042014

SEN. DAN PATRICK REQUESTS TAG OPINION: COMMON CORE VS. HB 462 - 12.29.13

http://www.educationviews.org/common-core-hb-462-sen-dan-patrick-files-offic ial-tag-request

Subject: "Sen. Dan Patrick Requests TAG Opinion on Common Core Standards vs. HB 462"

Requested by Sen. Dan Patrick on 12.20.13 - Accepted by Texas Attorney General on 12.23.13 -

Sen. Dan Patrick's official request to the Texas Attorney General:

Re: Request for an Attorney General Opinion to determine whether Texas' school districts violate the law [HB 462 passed by the 83rd Legislative Session] by using Common Core to teach state standards.

Excerpts from Sen. Dan Patrick's request:

HB 462, which is now law, prohibits the State Board of Education from adopting national

curriculum standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative to comply with a duty imposed under statutory provisions relating to courses of study in the public school curriculum and student advancement. It also prohibits a school district from using Common Core State Standards to comply with the requirement to provide instruction in the essential knowledge and skills [TEKS] at appropriate grade levels, and it prohibits a school district or open-enrollment charter school from being required to offer any aspect of a Common Core State Standards curriculum.

Finally, the law prohibits the Texas Education Agency from adopting or developing a statewide standardized test based on Common Core State Standards. However, certain school districts within Texas are currently using Common Core to teach the Texas state standards.

Accordingly, I submit to your office the following question in request of an Attorney General Opinion:

Does a school district using Common Core in any way to teach state standards [TEKS] violate the law?

==========

Subject: Request for Opinion (RQ) (Texas Attorney General's Office)

From: Texas Attorney General

Date: Dec 27, 2013 3:23 PM

RQ-1175-GA

Go to:

http://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/opinions/50abbott/rq/2013/pdf/R Q1175GA.pdf

Received: Monday, December 23, 2013

Re: Use of the Common Core State Standards Initiative by Texas school districts to teach state standards

Requestor: The Honorable Dan Patrick

Chair, Committee on Education

Texas State Senate

Post Office Box 12068

Austin, Texas 78711-2068

*I inserted the capital letters on "Common Core State Standards" and added bracketed information for clarification to the public. - Donna Garner

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com