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  • Common Core Curricula Have Core Problems PDF Print E-mail
    Editorials
    Written by Kathleen McCarthy   
    Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:09

    The next generation of top-down central planning for a federal K-12 education curriculum, Common Core, is now in full swing in Iowa and Illinois public and private school systems. Despite the rhetoric that claims otherwise, the Common Core standards are not (1) internationally benchmarked, (2) based upon scientific research that is documented and peer-reviewed, (3) created by the nation’s governors, state school officials, and legislatures with full transparency, or (4) owned by American taxpayers.

    The Common Core curriculum is entirely experimental, with no evidence or history of efficacy whatsoever. Nearly all the supporting data for Common Core comes from reports written by its sponsors – the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officials (CCSSO) – and lacks any true objectivity. This is of particular note considering that all the K-12 education models previously used in American education not only adhered to best practices supported by decades of proven scientific research but also underwent continual refinement based upon the latest scientific revelations in learning processes. In other words, it evolved under great scrutiny.

    The three primary authors are David Coleman, Susan Pimental, and Jason Zimba, founders of Student Achievement Partners. None of these authors has a background in any of the academic disciplines they wrote standards for. In a speech before the Learning Institute in 2011, Coleman admitted: “We were a collection of unqualified people who were involved in developing the common standards” (RCReader.com/y/core1). He likened their collaboration to a group at a bar with a napkin.

    The result is that Common Core is turning nearly every classroom in America into one gigantic experiment. The teachers themselves are unprepared to teach the new Common Core curriculum and must undergo extensive retraining at enormous taxpayer expense. Because Common Core is being implemented in 45 states, an entire generation is in jeopardy if the system proves the failure many predict it will be. For a well-rounded critique based on scholastic studies (versus pure rhetoric claiming rigorous standards) that informs the debate about the deficiencies abundant in Common Core, read Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-Less Decision Making by Christopher H. Tienken (RCReader.com/y/core2).

     
    Democrats Learning from GOP with Message, Timing PDF Print E-mail
    Illinois Politics
    Written by Rich Miller   
    Sunday, 14 September 2014 10:13

    The Illinois House Democrats launched their direct-mail and TV program weeks earlier than the House Republicans in an attempt to knock GOP candidates down before they even had a chance to stand up.

    The mail started going out not long after the mid-August Illinois State Fair. Four years ago, during a national Republican tidal wave, the House Republicans preemptively launched their advertising program in mid-September, catching the Democrats off-guard. The Republicans won a few seats they might not have picked off had they started at the usual time. The Democrats learned a valuable lesson, raised a ton of money, and began their mail and TV programs even earlier.

    As a result, the Republicans – who don’t have much money – have been buried by hundreds of thousands of dollars in early Democratic advertising.

     
    Teachers’ Union Endorsement Curious – but Perhaps Smart PDF Print E-mail
    Illinois Politics
    Written by Rich Miller   
    Monday, 08 September 2014 09:27

    The Illinois Education Association (IEA) has always leaned more Republican than its Illinois Federation of Teachers counterpart, but the IEA’s endorsement of one GOP candidate raised a few eyebrows this year.

    Conservative state Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) was endorsed by the IEA last month. The Illinois AFL-CIO assigns the Metro East legislator a rating of 36 percent so far this session. The Illinois Federation of Teachers, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, endorsed Kay’s Democratic opponent, Cullen L. Cullen. The IEA is not an AFL-CIO union.

    The Kay endorsement is not what you’d call an everyday occurrence. Yes, the IEA endorses a fair number of Republicans, but it’s well-documented that Kay was on friendly terms with the Tea Party when he was first elected in 2010, and the IEA is not enamored with that bunch.

     
    Holding My Nose for Term Limits: They’re Lazy and Misguided, but They Would Also Solve a Real Problem PDF Print E-mail
    Guest Commentaries
    Written by Jeff Ignatius   
    Thursday, 04 September 2014 09:39

    Bruce Rauner changed my mind on term limits. Probably not in the way he intended, but given my longstanding dislike of them, it’s still quite an accomplishment.

    The Republican nominee for Illinois governor has a television ad promoting term limits in which he pings his November opponent, Governor Pat Quinn. “A half-million people signed petitions to put term limits on the [November 2014] ballot,” Rauner says. “Illinois voters overwhelmingly support term limits: Democrats, Republicans, and independents. But Pat Quinn, Mike Madigan, and the Springfield crowd don’t care what you think. They’ll say or do anything to keep power. They let term limits get kicked off the ballot, but come November, it’s our turn to kick them out of office.”

    It’s a smart play to emphasize support for an ever-popular reform – and also disingenuous beyond the vague claim of “let[ting] term limits get kicked off the ballot.” Quinn has been a proponent of term limits for decades. And the June court ruling – which higher courts have let stand – removing the referendum from the ballot cited an Illinois Supreme Court decision from 1994, which dealt with a similar term-limit initiative by ... Pat Quinn.

    But it was the Madigan reference in Rauner’s ad that got me thinking – and got me re-thinking term limits.

     
    Rauner’s Promises Are Budgetary Fantasies PDF Print E-mail
    Illinois Politics
    Written by Jeff Ignatius   
    Sunday, 31 August 2014 19:28

    “We should have billions of dollars every year as part of our budget process ... [to] maintain and expand our infrastructure,” Bruce Rauner said last week, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    Rauner has been doing his best to woo the road builders all year, and he was speaking to the Illinois Farm Bureau, which has lots of members who rely on roads and bridges to get their goods to market. So I understand the practical politics of his bold promise.

    But this stuff costs money. Lots and lots and lots of money. And infrastructure is only his second priority. His top priority is education funding; he wants to spend even more money on schools.

    Yet Rauner says he wants to slash the state’s income-tax rate. Can he really do all that with lower revenues?

     
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